‘Our voices are not being heard’


The torturously sluggish pace that has continuously plagued the CNMI Board of Nursing for many years now appears to remain unresolved, this time affecting former Registered Nurses in the CNMI who are trying to obtain the necessary documents processed so they could continue their nursing careers overseas.

For many years now, nurses who have worked in the CNMI have raised concerns about the CNMI Board of Nursing’s tendency to drag its feet when it comes to providing documentation sought by former CNMI RNs overseas.

Saipan Tribune tried to reach out to the Board of Nursing multiple times in the span of one week and lines were either unreachable or this reporter was given the run around, much like the many Registered Nurses who have been unable to continue their careers outside the CNMI due to this unconcern.

Three former Registered Nurses in the CNMI, who understandably agreed to speak with Saipan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, are in desperate need of answers and for their documents to be processed.

According to the first nurse, he has been tirelessly reaching out to the Board of Nursing for two months and the responses he has received have been short, repetitive, or sometimes he doesn’t receive an answer altogether.

“I am an RN overseas and also holds a current registration under Commonwealth of the NMI. At this point, we do not know who to reach or where to reach to get our frustrations heard. …We’ve sent several emails to the Board of Nursing, called their landline phone numbers but nothing is being done. At the moment, when you ring them, it is just busy. It’s been two months that we’ve been waiting for our documents but until now we are told the same reason. Every time we ask for any update on status of our request, we get nothing but frustration. Please help us reach them. What truly frustrates us is that we do not know how long we still have to wait after two months of waiting,” he said.

He said there are hundreds of other nurses just like him and they need help.

“We are hundreds of nurses abroad asking the NMI Board of Nursing to speed up the release of a document, a ‘Certificate of Good Standing,” from their office. It is a very important requirement to get our registration in our desired countries where we would like to work, but up to this day, after several attempts, we begged and cried but nothing has been done. Our voices are not being heard. We are powerless. We feel unvalued, considering that we are Registered Nurses in the Commonwealth. We cannot work as Registered Nurses because of this document they fail to give us. We have families to feed back in our home countries. We are hundreds of applicants outside the NMI who are endlessly waiting for answers from them,” he said.

According to another overseas nurse, she has been waiting patiently for her Certificate of Good Standing, or COGS, which is the last requirement she needs in order for her to continue her nursing career in Australia.

“It was a dream to finally become a USRN when I registered with the NMI. At the same time, I passed the final nursing exam here in Australia and I am now eligible for nursing registration. One of [Australia]’s requirement is to submit a Certificate of Good Standing from all the Board of Nursing where I am currently registered. I am registered in the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and the NMI. The first two countries have already submitted the COGS to [the Australia nursing board] within a day of application, which was really great. However, with NMI Board of Nursing, they said they have an overload of requests and backlogs so they said it would take time. By the way, for the COGS to be processed, I had to send a $40 bank draft and a request letter by snail mail. In the Philippines and UAE, all were processed electronically. I paid online and the certificate was generated electronically as well,” she said.

“NMI [Board of Nursing] received my snail mail dated Dec. 5, 2022 and I was told to wait. To be honest, I was very patient and tried to understand their crisis. However, I have a family to support here in Australia and I am unable to work as a nurse because the NMI has not provided the certificate up to this date. Visa is also an issue for me; without the nursing registration, I am not able to apply for a permanent residency here, which will give my family benefits such as free healthcare and cheaper tuition for the kids. I have two children here and I must say that life has been really financially hard and I feel so helpless in this situation,” the nurse added.

The most frustrating part, she said, is the lack of proper communication when it comes to updates on their requested documents.

“There is a lot of implications because of this delay and the most frustrating part is that NMI does not give proper updates, does not answer our calls, or whenever they reply I feel it’s just a copy paste answer. They just always mention about the bunch of requests and kindly wait for 2-3 weeks, etc. However, I have been waiting for almost two months. I know a lot of nurses who are also in this situation and this is really alarming and it’s seriously giving me a lot of mental stress too,” she said.

Another RN who has been waiting patiently for the CNMI to process her documents in order for her to kickstart her career in Australia stated that she has been missing good opportunities that could have greatly benefitted her and her family due to this prolonged process.

“It’s been more than two months since we processed getting our certification from them, but until now, no light has been given to us. This has been delaying the progress of getting our nursing registration here in Australia, and also causing us to miss opportunities as employers are requiring AHPRA registration first before anything else,” she said. AHPRA stands for Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

The nurse stated that she has been in constant communication with the NMI Board of Nursing but almost every time, the response remains the same, with no progress.

“Since they received our request via mail, we have been in constant communication with NMI Board of Nursing about our request, but majority of the response we receive is for us to follow up the following week. I call them every week and they just give me the same response. They would just always say that they have been receiving a volume of requests and application, and we do not know if they are even doing anything to fix the delay and expedite their processing. Last week, they told me to follow up this Monday, Jan. 23, but all their contact numbers cannot be reached until today. Although I understand that they may be short-staffed or that a lot applications have been received by their office, I think we have already waited long enough for our request to be processed,” she stated.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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