Sunday, December 30, 2007

Alberta recruiting foreign nurses

Here's another news story that just supports our earlier post about the strengthened recruitment drive in Alberta, Canada:

Alberta fishing for foreign nurses

More foreign nurses are expected to flock to Central Alberta after the province pumps $5 million into recruitment efforts.

“It’s absolutely excellent. It’s obvious the province has made this a priority and is moving fast on it,” said Karmen Fittes, director of shared services with the David Thompson Health Region.

She hopes about 50 of the foreign nurses who respond to the government initiative will end up calling the Red Deer area their home.

More than 100 registered nurses are needed across the health region for the workforce of about 2,000 RNs. (Red Deer Advocate)

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Give a book this Christmas

Send the gift of knowledge this Christmas. Buy a book online and ship it to yourself or to someone else as a gift. In the Filipino Nursing Herald's Amazon Store, you can pick out all the newest and most popular nursing books and pay for it online. We highly recommend valuable titles such as Saunders' Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN, Saunders' Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN, and LaCharity's Delegation, Prioritization and Assignment. We also have books from Kaplan, Mosby and many more.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Chistmas

Have a merry Christmas everyone! May the spirit of joy and giving fill our lives every day of the year.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Alberta revises nurse recruitment tactics

The Canadian federal government has given Alberta the go-ahead and C$530,000 in funding to fly overseas and recruit foreign nurses. Officials from Alberta will be able to recruit and assess nurses without requiring these nurses to fly to Calgary's Mount Royal College first to take assessment exams, CBC reports.

The move is intended to help Ottawa fill thousands of nursing vacancies. The pilot program is expected to save time and money as assessors can now go directly to places that have traditionally supplied nursing manpower and evaluate them in their own countries.

During the assessment program, assessors look at the nurses' experience, education, and English skills. If an education upgrade is required of a nurse, classes can be taken that lasts from a few weeks to a year.

**Personal Note**

This is good news for Philippine nurses who want to try their luck in Canada. We don't know yet when the first assessors from Alberta will come over, but please be alert for potential scams from people who might take advantage of this. It has happened in the past. Always conduct due diligence before committing to any contract.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Filipino caregivers being forced out of UK

A growing number of Filipino caregivers are being forced out of the United Kingdom because of a new law that mandates higher salaries for care providers, BBC news reports.

A new rule issued by the UK's Home Office says that employers must pay their staff a minimum of £7.02 an hour for the staff to qualify for work permit renewal. Many home care services in the UK were commissioned by local authorities which have limited budget and cannot pay the required minimum.

**Supplement on visiting UK**
Despite the high cost of living, many Filipinos have flocked to the UK, working not just in the medical field such as nurses or caregivers but also in the hospitality sector.

Many Filipinos also go to the UK either to study or to relax. Filipino tourists regularly visit the UK's charms to sample the culture and the nightlife. There are plenty of good London hotels to choose from. Tourists can also opt to stay in any of the Edinburgh hotels or Glasgow hotels to truly experience British hospitality.

To read more about the UK, check out this link about visiting Britain.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Filipina appointed to Nevada Board of Nursing

Filipino-American Belen Gabato has been appointed to the Nevada Board of Nursing, the first person of Asian descent to get the post, reports the Asian Journal.

Gabato, who hails from Cebu City, first arrived in the US in 1964 and has been an active nurse-leader in the country. Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons will officially induct Gabato to office on December 14.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

PRC allows license verification without card

Here's good news to everyone looking to get license verification from the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

The PRC will accept license verification requests even if you still don't have the actual license card, as long as your name already appears on their database. In the past, the PRC rejected all verification requests from applicants who don't have their license cards yet.

One of this blog's readers, Marco, shared to us this information.

Goodluck to everyone.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Australian firm to recruit nurses from RP

Pulse Health, an Australian firm, is set to open a recruitment and training center in the Philippines with hopes of recruiting over 400 nurses and carers for facilities intended to care for elderly, disabled or recuperating patients in Australia.

Read the Business Day report here.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

US hospitals that sponsor foreign nurses

With retrogression, hospitals in the US have temporarily suspended their sponsorship programs for foreign nurses. Some continue their recruitment efforts but the most they can do is file for the Petition for Alien Worker or I-140.

When visas become available, look for US hospitals to start sponsoring foreign RN again. Here are a few hospitals in Southern California that have sponsored foreign RNs in the past:

Saint John's Health Center - www.stjohns.org
Good Samaritan Hospital - www.goodsamcareers.org
Tenet California - teamtenet.com
Enloe Medical Center - www.enloe.org
Antelope Valley Hospital - www.avhospital.org
White Memorial Hospital - www.whitememorial.com

Just like other hospitals, these facilities have put their foreign recruitment efforts on hold, but look for them once there's some relief from retrogression.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
This posting should not be seen as an endorsement, rather it is for information purposes only. Please do your own research into these facilities first before making a committment.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Room Assignments for the December 2007 Nursing Licensure Exam

The Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) has now posted the room assignments for the Dec. 2007 nursing board exams on Dec. 1 and 2.

There are separate room assignments for those taking the:
A. Regular Examination
B. Special Examination-June 2006
C. Removal Examination

To view room assignments, see the list below or click here to go to the PRC Web site.

A. REGULAR EXAMINATION

ABABA, KHRISTHEA MAE SACRAME to ALINEA, EDZEL GARLITO View

ALINEA, MARIE GRACE DE GUZMAN to ARTICULO, DESSA MARIE RIVERA View

ARTIENDA, EFREN TESTADO to BARTOLOME, JADE BRILLIANT FERNANDEZ View

BARTOLOME, JAIRUS IDOL FERNANDEZ to BRICIA,MARIA ROWENA DIAZ View

BRIGINO, LEO VILLANO to CANLAS, ANGELICA PUNU View

CANLAS, CECILE ABON to CHUA, SHONALEY ESGUERRA View

CHUA,SUSANA BERNARDO to DANG-AOEN, DAVID JR CALAYCAY View

DANGAL, ROCHELLE IRIS MACATANGAY to DELA CRUZ, SHERYL CASTAÑEDA View

DELA CRUZ, SHERYL DELOS SANTOS to EGUIA, MARIA BEATRIZ BORCE View

EGUIN, CAROLINE VILLA to FERRER, AIMEE REYNA TORRES View

FERRER, AINE JOY JAVIER to GARRIDO, RHEA SARET View

GARRO, MARLON VILLA to HERNANDEZ, PATRICK GAIL VARGAS View

HERNANDEZ, PAULA KAY ROQUE to LACSON, KRISTEL CASTRO View

LACSON, LEA BALTAZAR to LOPEZ, SUNSHINE ZAULDA View

LOPEZ, SWANI FAITH GOLLOD to MANALANSAN,MARIAN JIMENEZ View

MANALANSAN, PAUL JOHN BACANI to MELAD, CLARENCE JADSAC View

MELAD, GRACE DIANE ENRIQUEZ to NATIVIDAD, SHERILYN LIWANAG View

NATIVIDAD,VANESSA TOLENTINO to PADILLA, RINA JOYZYBELLE DALERE View

PADILLA, SHAYNE CARRERA to PERILLO, PAOLA MARIE PABELLO View

PERIQUET,JERAMY AMON to RAMOS, MICHELLE ANN NACPIL View

RAMOS, MINERVA PATRICIO to ROMERO, MA LUISA DUE View

ROMERO, MARIA CAMILLE AGUILAR to SANTOS, ABBY DARIEL FLORES View

SANTOS, ABIGAIL CAMILLE JUAQUICO to SORIANO, RAMONITO JR BACUD View

SOTAYCO, MA CHRISTINA MENDOZA to TOLEDO, CLEIR LOJA View

TOLEDO, CONRADO JR PUNZALAN to VERDIDA, CHARINA DE LA TORRE View

VERGARA, AIZA ZARA to ZUÑIGA, WILANDER DELA CRUZ View



B. SPECIAL EXAMINATION (JUNE 2006 RETAKERS)

ABAPIAL, ARLENE BOCALA to ZARATAN, STEVENSON DUQUE View


C. REMOVAL EXAMINATION

ALFONSO, LORNA SANTOS to YAUN, MARIELLE AUMAN View


For errors, correction or missing names, kindly contact or visit the APPLICATION DIVISION, P. Paredes St., Sampaloc, Manila or call telephone number 314-0027.

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December 2007 Nursing Licensure Exam

A new batch of Filipino hopefuls will take the Philippine Nursing Licensure Exam on Dec. 1 and 2. Here's wishing you goodluck on the test. As always, we'll try to post the results of the nursing board exams here once they are available. The only tip I can give you now is: Pray hard, think hard, and stay calm.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

US income tax 101 for nurses

The income tax system works differently in the US compared to the Philippines. Whereas, a nurse's salary in Manila will only be deducted with a single income tax based on his or her salary bracket (or based how much the person earns annually), their US counterparts, on the other hand, may be charged a Federal income tax (US Federal governement), a State income tax (state level) and, possibly, a local income tax (county or city level).

The Federal income tax ranges from 15% to 35%. Florida, Texas and Washington charge the maximum 35%, however theses states no not have state income taxes. State income taxes range from 3% to 9.5%. The lowest state income tax is in Illinois, which has a flat rate of 3%. Vermont has the highest as it uses the maximum 9.5%. In California, state income tax ranges from 1% at $6,622 in income and increases to 9.3% over $43,468. Nurses whose basic pay exceeds the minimum for the highest bracket are usually in the 9.3% income tax category. Aside from the income tax, California has introduced a mental health tax of 1% for incomes above $1,000,000.

The US government also allows some local governments to impose their own taxes on personal income. An example is New York city which charges an additional 3.68% as city income tax on top of state and federal taxes.

Aside from income tax, there are other salary deductions that you might be subjected to when you start working in the US. There's the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), which is similar to the Philippines' Social Security System (SSS) or Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). There is also an old age insurance and health insurance component in the FICA, similar to our SSS pension and Philhealth.

To start your own research into the US income tax system, here's a useful article from Wikipedia. Here's also a comprehensive listing of US States and their income tax rates from Salary.com

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Friday, November 23, 2007

US Congress break

For those anticipating updates about retrogression, just continue to be patient. The US Congress is on break until Dec. 4. Today's the start of Thanksgiving in the US so everyone's on vacation mode at this time.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Getting on board Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the biggest hospital staff employers in the US. They have headquarters in Oakland, California and are located in 9 states and in Washington, D.C.

I've heard many good feedback about Kaiser and how they treat their employees well. But getting on board Kaiser is a difficult process if you don't have any hospital experience, particularly U.S. hospital experience.

A hospital recruiter told me that Kaiser in South California does not sponsor foreign nurses, but Kaiser facilities in North California do. So, once visa retrogression is out, I would recommend those with years of experience to check out this potential employer.

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New online ad program

Just signed on with this new online ads company, Blogsvertise.com and part of their requirements is that I post something about them. For a long time I've been using Adsense from Google and have been happy with them. I would love to get any feedback from other people who've signed on before with Blogsvertise. In the meantime, I'll try out this new program and see how it goes. Later, I'll give my own feedback as well.

We hardly make anything out of the Filipino Nursing Herald blog. What we value most are the friends we've made since we started this site. Born of our own frustrations with our own search for Web sites that catered specifically to Filipino nurses' needs, the Filipino Nursing Herald now has a modest number of regular visitors and a growing number of new visitors. We truly appreciate your visits and it is our hope, that in our own little way, we are able to help others in their own nursing career journeys.

We always value other people's feedback, so drop us a line anytime.

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Nursing shortage in Canada

The Canadian Nurses Association says there will be a shortfall of 78,000 nurses by 2011, rising to 113,000 by 2016 in the country, CTV.ca reports.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The struggle to find a job

A couple of days ago I blogged about the plight of 3,000 male nurses in Saudi who can't find jobs. The kingdom's ministry of health chief thinks that's already a crisis. In the Philippines, government officials wouldn't even bat an eyelash if tens of thousands of nurses today are unemployed.

Just digest these figures a bit:

In December 2006, around 20,000 Filipino nurses passed the bi-annual licensure exam conducted by the country's Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC). In the following exams, some 32,000 made it to become registered nurses as well.

How many of these successful exam-takers do you think has been employed? With retrogression still a major hurdle in the US job market, how many of our registered nurses are actually working? Even with other markets, outside the US are open, such as the Middle East, how many have actually found employment? To add to our woes, the 32,000 nurses who passed the June 2007 exams still don't have actual licenses yet. So, just imagine how many new nurses will flood hospital employers once these people are actually allowed to work.

In December, another 60,000 nurse applicants will take the licensure test, we could easily breach the 100,000 mark pretty soon if the job market doesn't improve--not just in the US, Middle East, and Europe, but also at home.

Today, Philippine healthcare facilities make tons of money out of new nurses. Hospitals charge an arm and a leg for their training seminars. Most employers won't hire new nurses unless they go through a training program that applicants must pay for from their own pockets. The word "volunteer" has taken a new meaning in the context of Philippine healthcare. The freedictionary.com defines "volunteer" as: "To do charitable or helpful work without pay". But in the Philippines, a "volunteer nurse" must pay before he or she is allowed to render charitable work.

Many employers in the US don't even know what a volunteer nurse does. They have volunteer workers who help greet visitors, help with supplies, or provide assistance that are non-medical in nature.

But in the Philippines, volunteer nurses do everything a staff nurse does. The only difference between them is the direction of the money flow. Staff nurses are paid, volunteer nurses pay.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nurses off to Canada

Despite what we posted last time about Canada, the country is still a land of opportunity for many. In the past weeks, for example, about 90 Filipino nurses have been recruited to work in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, according to the Leader-Post.

See story here.

Information on the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region
Information on Saskatchewan

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Friday, November 16, 2007

The troubles in Canada

Many things about our world bother me. High up on my list is discrimation and racism. Almost everyday, I hear stories of Filipinos being discriminated on just because of our race. Many efforts have been done to resolve this worrisome situation, but a lot more effort is needed to make it go away.

I've heard stories about Canada being a land of promises. Some of my relatives have lived there for a long time and some of them have become successful. Yet, the truth about its broken immigration policies and its highly discriminative work environment is truly troublesome. Take this Web site (www.notcanada.com), for example, and see a part of this country's almost hidden identity.

Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Joe Volpe acknowledges the issue. Read his comments here on W-Five's story.

Even Filipino nurses who have years of experience are forced to work in the lowest positions when they go to Canada. I've heard about a nurse director from one of the larger hospitals in our country who was told that she must first work as a nurse aide and go back to school in a Canadian college before she can work as a first-level nurse.

In Europe, discrimation and racism are openly and blatantly displayed. Even the world's best soccer players are taunted with racist slurs. Watch this troubling video:



DISCRIMINATION exists everywhere, even in our own beloved Philippines. We are not bashing any particular country or place. We always advocate free information and free choice. Before making a decision on career and immigration plans, do your own extensive research. Pray to God. We won't know what God has in store for us if we don't ask.

Here are some sites that provide information about Canada:
Wikipedia
Canada.com
Official Canadian Web site
Canadian Immigration
Success Story - Immigration

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UAE allows visiting nurses to take on jobs

Here's good news from the United Arab Emirates. The government is allowing nurses on visit visas to sit for their nursing exam and take on jobs with private hospitals.

Read the story here.

You must have at least three years work experience before you can work in UAE, but the government is looking to trim this down to two years.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Immigration bills and retrogression update

Since the last push for new Schedule A visa allocations was stymied by US legislators, there's been no news of other similar proposals being pushed forward yet. At least, not that we know of. A lot of things happen in Capitol Hill and it's impossible to keep track of all of them.

I guess the general sentiment in the US is that the big immigration issues will be addressed only after the presidential elections in Nov. next year. The issue is mostly focused on what America will do with its large population of undocumented immigrants. The issues affecting people in the employment-based categories like the technology workers, nurses and PTs are collateral damage, so to speak.

The US Congress is currently rushing to finish about 10 spending bills or budget bills and just like the last Schedule A visa push, we're all hoping another proposal will be attached to one of these bills. Hopefully another visa proposal will be introduced without restrictive provisions such as the $3,500 additional fee proposed the last time.

Let's all pray that something happens pretty soon. I hope they come out with a proposal that would simply open more visas for foreign nurses.

In the meantime, it is best to get your papers in order. Scout for possible employers and get work experience. Train and learn as much as you can at work or whereever you are. Although work experience is not required to get employment abroad, I've found that some of the best hospital employers only want people with some work experience.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

3,000 male nurses in Saudi unemployed

Some 3,000 male Saudi nursing graduates are still waiting for jobs, reports The Arab News. Dr. Obaid Al-Obaid, vice minister for planning and development at the Ministry of Health, claims there is a surplus of male nurses but a shortage of female nurses in the Kingdom.

Female nurses comprise 35 percent of all nurses working at government hospitals in the Kingdom while male nurses make up 32 percent.

“The number of jobless Saudi male nurses will unfortunately increase by the end of this year to reach 6,000 to 7,000,” said Al-Obaid.

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ANSAP contact info

The Association of Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines (ANSAP Inc.) regulates Intravenous Therapy (IVT) training seminars in the country. For upcoming training schedules, you can call them at (63)7163901 loc. 383.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Proposed nurse visas dropped from budget bill

A US House and Senate conference committee has approved the Labor-HHS-Education budget bill that combines the proposed budgets for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The bill will be presented and voted on by Nov. 5.

We're still trying to confirm if the proposed recapture of 61,000 Schedule A visas made it through.

Update:
There's news that the proposed recapture of visas for Schedule A occupations did not survive the conference committee.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Updates on Schedule A proposal

The US budget appropriations bill where the proposed re-allocation of Schedule A visas is tacked on to is currently being deliberated on in a conference committee involving both the US House of Reps. and the US Senate.

Here are some links that provide updates on the progress of the bill:
US Senate Appropriations Committee
US House of Representatives Apprpriations Committee

You can also search Google News for the latest updates. Just google "Labor, Health, Education Appropriations bill"

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Update on the Visa bill

The proposed 61,000 visas for Schedule A workers in the US is caught in the middle of maelstorm involving Democrat lawmakers and President Bush. Read the latest news from the Washington Post about the state of US appropriation bills, one of which includes the proposed new visas for foreign nurses.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Becoming a nurse in the US

This post was initially intended as an answer to a question posted by one of my visitors, but I've decided to make it an entirely new blog entry so that others may also read it.

I often encounter a lot of people who get confused about the entire US nursing application process. Although there are many resources on the Internet that provide information on this, I guess many still get lost and don't know where to look. Others, perhaps, look for a crystal ball that can provide answers in a jiffy without making them sweat even just a little when searching. Still, questions need to be answered, regardless if you belong to the first or the second, so I hope this satisfies those who are looking for information.

Most of what I'll explain here was already discussed in previous posts, particularly in the NCLEX series of articles. Part 1 of the series is at the end of this link.

To be able to work as a nurse in the US, you must have the following:
1. US Nurse license
2. US Visa that allows you to live & work there
3. Employer, of course

Nurse licensure
To get a nurse license in the US, you must apply for licensure and pass the NCLEX-RN. Each of the fifty US states have DIFFERENT requirements. To learn about these requirements, just go to each State BON's Web site and download an application packet. You must meet all the requirements before you are ELIGIBLE to register for the NCLEX-RN. Please note that I used the word "register". If you are given an "Eligibility" by the state BON, you still can't take the NCLEX. Not just yet. Once you get the eligibility, you must register with Pearson-Vue, who will then confirm to the state BON that you are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. Once Pearson-Vue makes the confirmation, it will issue what is called, the Authorization To Test or the ATT. After that, you can proceed to make an appointment for your exam.

Note that choosing a US State for your nursing licensure and taking the NCLEX exam are two different things. This is where most of the confusion arises. Each state will have its own requirements and US state BONS have varying processing times for licensure applications. Some states will probably issue an eligibility in as little as 2-3 months, while others may take 6 or more months. This depends on many factors--such as how fast you complete all your requirements, how many other applications are being processed, or how many people are working for the processing agency. Certain states process applications fairly quickly; Vermont, for example, has a reputation for fast processing. In California, applications are processed from as fast as 3 months to more than 6 months.

When deciding which state to apply for nursing licensure, make a decision based on where you really want to work, and not just how fast your papers will move. Although you can apply for ENDORSEMENT, this takes another set of requirements and another set of fees and you'll end up paying more than if you apply directly to the state where you want to live and work.

As I've said, choosing a State and taking the NCLEX are two separate events. When you have already chosen a US State and have been given an eligibility, you can choose whereever you want to take the NCLEX-RN test. When you register with Pearson-Vue, you can choose to sit for the exam either in the US, provided you already have a US visa to travel to the US, or you can take the exam in U.S. territories such as Guam or Saipan, or you can go to Hong Kong or other Asian countries where the NCLEX-RN is administered. You may also elect to stay here in the Philippines, where you can already sit for the NCLEX-RN. Click here to see where Pearson-Vue in Manila is located.

Before issuing a nursing license, most US state BONs require that you already have a US Social Security number. However, you CAN'T get a SSN unless you are an immigrant in the US, or a legal resident, either through student visas, working visas, or others. So, even if you pass the NCLEX-RN, you won't be issued a nursing license unless you have been petitioned for the US by an employer. And, so, the next step begins.

Getting a US visa
There are different types of visa issued by the US government that allows you to visit, stay, or work in their country. Nurses, being classified in the shortage occupations category or Schedule A, immediately get an immigrant visa, unlike other professions that can be petitioned through employment-based visas or working visas. To be eligible for sponsorship, you must have a legal US employer who will sponsor your visa petition. You must also submit certain documents; among these documents is the VISASCREEN Certificate, for which you must submit an application to CGFNS. CGFNS will only issue you a Visascreen if you have (A) either passed the NCLEX-RN OR have the CGFNS Certificate (through the CGFNS exam) AND (B) a passing score for an accredited English exam, such TOEFL or IELTS.

Retrogression
The U.S. government allocates only a certain number of visa numbers every year, meaning only a number of visa applicants can be given a visa for a given year. Because of the huge number of foreign nurse applications to the US, there is a backlog of applicants who are still waiting for their visas to be issued. This backlog goes back a few years. For nurses, if I recall correctly, the backlog stretches as far back as 2002 (for confirmation). So, this means that current applicants can't be issued a visa yet. Nobody knows when visas will be available again. There are ongoing efforts to resolve this, but nothing is definite at this time. We, at the Filipino Nursing Herald, try to keep up with the latest news on retrogression, so check back regularly for updates.

Getting an employer
After passing the NCLEX, getting an employer should be your next goal. Although there is still retrogression, there are a number of employers who continue their recruitment drives, knowing that visas will be available again, hopefully, soon.

When choosing an employer, scrutinize contracts and agreements carefully if you have been given an offer. Consult with relatives, friends, and ask questions in public chatrooms so that you can gather as much information that you need to make a decision.

It is my hope that some questions about the US nursing application process has been answered. If you want to contribute other information that I may not have touched on, please feel free to send you comments.

For a more detailed article on the applying for the NCLEX, read the NCLEX Series here in the Filipino Nursing Herald.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Understanding the White House-Congress standoff

We've written before that President Bush has threatened to veto the appropriations bill where the proposal to recapture 61,000 visas for nurses & PTs is attached. To understand why the White House and the US Congress is at a standoff on this issue, go through some of the statements released by Sen. Robert Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, to learn some history about the matter.

Read this statement to start your research.

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Full text of Amendment 3449

Here's a link to the full text of Amendment 3449 as submitted to the US Senate.

Full text of Amendment 3449.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Getting a grip on Senate Amendment 3449; proposal seeks 61,000 visas for foreign nurses, PTs, & their families

On Tuesday, the US Senate approved by unanimous voice vote to include Amendment 3449 to the budget appropriations bill of the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education. Amendment 3449, introduced by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, seeks to give 61,000 visas for nurses, physical therapists and their immediate families. Nurses and PTs are part of the Schedule A classification, which states that these occupations are shortage jobs in the US.

The approval of the amendment in the Senate is a major victory. The Senate was recently the battleground for the controversial immigration reform bill which was voted down.

The appropriations bill will now face a Senate-House conference for the final phase of the legislative process in Congress. If the bill gets through, it will be submitted to President Bush for final review and approval. At both levels, the bill faces very tough challenges. If the bill makes it past the joint conference, the President could still veto the bill and he has threatened to do so. Contentious provisions in the proposed budgets, and not the provisions on the Schedule A occupations, has grabbed the attention of the President. The bill proposes to allocate funds in excess of what he had originally asked and this is one of the major reasons for his veto threats.

Based on Amendment 3449, some 61,000 will be allocated for Schedule A occupations, but apart from that, there is also a proposal to require employers to pay a $1,500 fee that will go to Durbin’s NEED Act program "to provide grants to U.S. nursing schools for hiring nurse faculty, expanding training capacity and recruiting more students."

I guess the obvious question now is who will actually pay this new $1,500 fee? Although the bill says employers should pay for it, in the real world we know that nurses who are recruited from outside the US end up paying all the fees. On top of the other immigration fees, lawyers fees and recruitment fees, there is a new burden for foreign nurses. Of course, there are some employers who would take this up on their own, but there are probably several who will ask the nurses to pay for it or devise some scheme where nurses will end up paying for it in the long run.

We recognize the major achievements that have been accomplished and the approval of the Amendment is indeed very good news. Let us pray that this bill will see the light of day and hopefully visas could again be available at the start of the new year.

Read news about the passage of Amendment 3449 from Sen. Durbin's Web site.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bridge amendment attached to Labor bill

The US Senate approved a proposal to attach the Bridge amendment to the Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The amendment would open up as much as 61,000 visas for nurses and their immediate families.

This is very good news indeed. There is still a long way to go, but this is a major step forward for all foreign nurses. There is a threat that President Bush might veto this bill if it passes the conference. Bush' displeasure with the bill is not directed against the bridge amendment, instead his attention is focused on other provisions of the bill, particularly with regard to the size of the proposed budget under the bill.

Read the full story from Hammond Law's blog.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bill amendments may recapture Sched A visas for nurses

Over the past week, two amendments were offered in the US Senate that would recapture unused visas for Schedule A applicants, particularly foreign nurses, and their families. Hammond Law Group, in its Web site, said these amendments could be tackled as early as this week.

The first amendment seeks to recapture 61,000 unused visa. This amendment is being attached to the Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill co-sponsored by Sen. Schumer and Sen. Hutchison.

The second amendment seeks to recapture visas not just for Schedule A workers and their family members but also for other Employment-based visa applicants.

We hope these amendments get approval and their parent bills later being signed into law.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Still a waiting game for foreign nurses

It seems all is quiet in the frontlines of the US immigration struggle. After the failed push to reform US imigration policies earlier this year, talks of new immigration bills have been relegated to the sidelines and talked about in hushed tones. There is simply too much drama associated with immigration in the US that any debate on the matter sets off fireworks.

Despite this, we're all hoping proposals to give more freedom for foreign nurses to enter the US would still be moving forward. Advocates for the nurses' cause are expecting things to inch forward by November until early next year. We're hoping Congress will look at this issue more favorably and then let's pray for the US Senate to follow suit.

But until then, let's all be patient. Now is the perfect time to get your own papers ready; now is the time to hone your skills and add weight to your stock. So that when the road opens up again, you'll be all set.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Schedule of upcoming US career fairs for nurses

Filipino nurses who are already in the US, might be interested to visit these scheduled career fairs organized by Nursing Spectrum. Although retrogression is still in effect, it won't hurt to meet possible employers when the visa restrictions are resolved:

Upcoming Career Fairs for 2007
October
October 18 Oakland, CA
October 23 Las Vegas, NV
October 24 Baltimore, MD
October 24 Tinley Park, IL
October 26 Edison, NJ

November
November 6 Dallas, TX
November 8 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
November 13 Seattle, WA
November 13 San Diego, CA

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nurse with poor English suspended from job

Here's a sad case of a Filipino nurse who was suspended from the hospital he worked for in the U.K. Based on the charges brought against him, it was said he "lacked competence" both in his nursing skills and his English communication skills. I feel sorry for this man and I hope we all get some lessons from his experience.

I know a lot of people who've taken up nursing so that they can take advantage of the many opportunities for nurses in other countries, but before you set out for greener pastures, I urge you to try to keep the high standards that Filipino nurses have been known for.

Assess yourself, see where you're weak at, and seek ways of improving your skills. Try to get some hospital experience, even if some employers don't require you to get one. There are good training programs out there. If that doesn't work out, do some volunteer work; a couple of these volunteer programs are very good. Do this for yourself so that you'll be more confident when you find a real nursing job.

If you have poor English skills, just keep practicing. Even if you've already passed your IELTS or TOEFL exams, continue to improve your communication skills. My English skills are not so bad, but even I struggle to talk in English if I have to use it everyday at work or at other places outside home.

It is my hope, and the hope of many Filipinos I'm sure, that this will the last time we'll hear about a Filipino being suspended or fired for having poor nursing and English skills.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Nurse volunteer program

A couple of hospitals in Manila offer nurse volunteer programs. Some collect a small fee, some allow you to volunteer for free.

St. Jude Hospital & Medical Center in Dimasalang St. (Just after UST Hospital and Infant Jesus Hospital) offers a good program for new nurses. There's a small fee of 2,000/month but they will give you a certificate at the end of your program.

East Avenue Medical Center offers a free volunteer program for new nurses. Registration is conducted every Wednesday. Just bring all your credentials with photocopies.

As with any training programs, you have to be aggressive and try to do as much as you can to learn. Be perceptive and don't be afraid to ask staff nurses or even the doctors so that you'll learn a lot.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Shoutout for Joey A.

Here's a shoutout for my good friend, Joey A. of the Inquirer. Thanks for featuring The Filipino Nursing Herald in Blog Addicts. Check out Joey's own Babel Machine blog.

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Technique on answering TOEFL, IELTS questions

Here's a useful technique I learned from an English teacher that you can use for your own English exam. This can be used either when taking the Writing or Speaking modules in TOEFL iBT or IELTS.

When being asked your opinion on any subject matter, you can use a simple formula. For example, if you were asked: "What are your favorite tourist destinations in Manila?" You can answer this by using a formula: General statement + List + Explanation of each subject on list + summary.

To apply this formula,this is how I would answer the question:
(1) Manila is a beautiful city with many tourist attractions. (2)Among these attractions, my favorites are Luneta Park, Intramuros, and Manila Bay. (3)I like Luneta Park because I can just sit down on the grass and relax and enjoy a picnic. (4) I like Intramuros because I can look at many historical artifacts displayed there and get to see different products from the provinces that are being sold at a fair inside Intramuros. (5) Lastly, Manila Bay is also my favorite tourist spot because I can watch one of the country's most beautiful sunsets. (6)These are my favorite tourist places in Manila.

As you can see, I started out with a general statement, which basically is just a restatement of the question. Then I enumerated the places I liked. For short answers, particularly when speaking, just mention two things. Then if you have time, add another, but it is best to keep it down to two. Then explain each topic you mention. Just keep it simple, don't try to use heavy words. Always remember that you don't need to impress the test scorer, your goal is to communicate your thoughts and you can do that by using simple words. Then after explaining, summarize your thoughts. If you run out of time, you can skip the summary because you've already said the main points of your speech.

Try practicing this technique and have someone else ask you questions and then ask their feedback. A great lesson I learned in English review school is that you need to be comfortable when speaking. Try not to be intimidated by the computer or by the test scorer asking the questions. Imagine that you're just talking to a friend so that you'll be more comfortable when answering.

I hope this tip helps you. Just send me questions if you need additional help with this simple technique.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

TOEFL or IELTS

I get asked a lot about what English exam is best to take when applying for a license in the US. People who read my blog know that I took the TOEFL iBT for my own licensure application but most people I know take the IELTS.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is administered by ETS, a private nonprofit organization that develops and administers tests for educational measurement and research. The TOEFL and its latest product, the TOEFL iBT, was primarily developed to test English skills of foreign nationals to see if they would be able to communicate effectively in an academic setting in the US. That's why the content of the test simulates situations on campus that potential students would like encounter.

On the other hand, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IDP Education Australia. Unlike TOEFL which is geared primarily for an academic setting, IELTS offers two modules: one for academic and the other for non-academic training and immigration purposes.

Although both will test your English language proficiency, they offer different testing techniques and content. US schools and immigration will accept either TOEFL or IELTS scores, but in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, only the IELTS is recognized.

Both TOEFL and IELTS will measure your English proficiency in four areas: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. However, TOEFL iBT is administered entirely through the computer, while the IELTS Speaking module requires that you talk in-person to an examiner who will evaluate your skills based on questions that you, the examinee, select.

The Speaking module is the bane of most Filipino examinees and most find it comfortable talking to a real person instead of just speaking through a microphone connected to a computer or recording device. This is the reason most reviewers advice examinees to take the IELTS instead of TOEFL iBT.

In my own experience, the TOEFL iBT's Speaking Test was quite daunting. Although the test content or the tasks themselves were not difficult at all to someone who's comfortable using the English language, the anxiety that goes with the preparation when answering a question may become overwhelming. For example, a typical question would have you listen to a conversation between two students. For one of the tasks, you will be asked to summarize the conversation, explain which optional actions were suggested during the conversation, choose which action is best for the student to take, and then explain why this is your choice--all in 40 to 60 seconds. A good answer would use up all the time alloted for the question; too short or too long responses usually get minus points. For this task, you'll only be given 30 seconds to prepare your answer. The time constraint puts pressure on the examinee to answer quickly and groping for words can be disastrous.

I don't have personal experience with IELTS, as I have neither taken it nor answered sample exams on the Internet, so I can't give you an opinion on this test. I would love to have someone who has experience in the IELTS share their comments here so that others would be enlightened as well.

To answer the original quesion of this entry: which is best to take, TOEFL iBT or IELTS. My short answer is: it really depends on which English test is recognized by the country you want to apply for. In the US, both IELTS and TOEFL iBT is accepted by US immigration for Visascreen purposes. In Australia, New Zealand and the UK, IELTS is recognized but not TOEFL. Then, you also have to choose based on your level of English proficiency. If you believe you can hurdle the Speaking and Writing tests in TOEFL, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise, try to gauge yourself by answering sample tests for both IELTS and TOEFL iBT to see where you're most comfortable in.

Here are links to useful resources:
TOEFL
IELTS

You can search and buy reviews books from our Amazon Store.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

A great read

Here's one of the best position articles I've read on the issue of nurse migration, particularly about Filipino nurses migrating to the US. Everyone please take time to read this and pass it on if you must.

Here's a link to the article written by Joseph Curran:
Open Letter to President Carter

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The wait continues

Perhaps many of the repeat visitors of this blog have been disappointed over the past few weeks largely due to my failure to post new information on my blog. Please accept my apologies. I suppose all bloggers on the Internet have hit some kind of quiet period once or twice or more in their online careers. These past few weeks have taken much away from my time working on my young blog. I hope you would understand my dear friends.

Scanning through some of the Web's pages, I found an interesting link:

There's a GMAnews report about 21 Filipino nursing students who staged a protest rally earlier in the day to call for equal rights among Japanese nurses and Filipino nurses who could be deployed in Japan once a treaty between Japan and the Philippines becomes ratified.

It was a bit confusing to read this piece of news. The news writer says that the student nurses were against the ratification and yet he failed to say exactly why they were against it. The news source (or the person interviewed by the writer) said the treaty would make Filipino nurses commodities for sale and yet there was nothing cited about the contents of the treaty that supported this claim. The report also said Filipino nurses must be treated equally as Japanese nurses. Again there was no evidence that the treaty will fail to protect the interest of Pinoy nurses. Although if we look at current policies in Japan, they do tend to treat aliens in their country as second class citizens, but this still requires further investigation. If being required to speak the Japanese language or to pass their licensure exam before being able to work in Japan is an unfair policy, then Gloria Arroyo should continue to sit as President beyond 2010 because we just love to be unreasonable.

My ramblings here are neither meant to put judgment on the motives of the protesters or their reasons for taking the streets, nor am I calling for the quick ratification of the treaty. It is just that news stories like this one give me a migraine like those articles I've had to edit in a past life.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

A little help from WSJ

The failed push for an immigration reform law in the U.S. Senate cast a gloomy shadow over other immigration-related legislation, including the Strive Act, which seeks to give, among others, visas to foreign nurses to work and live in the U.S. Since many legislators have declined to touch the topic of immigration, it's good news indeed that one of the influential newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, in the U.S. have adopted the cause to enable the entry of foreign nurses as a short-term solution to the growing nursing shortage crisis.

Here's a link to an editorial published on Sept. 12 in the WSJ. The link is from a post in the Hammond Law Group blog.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Books for NCLEX review

There are many books that you can use to review for the NCLEX-RN test, but here are some books that were very useful when I studied for my own U.S. licensure exam:

1. Kozier's Fundamentals of Nursing - always useful whether for local or the U.S. NCLEX. It's important that you know your basics.

2. Saunder's Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination - finish reading the entire book and then try to answer the entire set of questions in the accompanying CD-ROM. When answering questions and you get stymied by a difficult question, go back to the book and study the topic again. This is a very good routine when studying and it improves retention.

3. Saunder's Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination - Use this book together with the Comprehensive Review to look up answers to questions you have difficulty answering. It has a CD-ROM companion which contains basically the same questions as in the book.

4. LaCharity's Prioritization, Delegation & Assignment - Perhaps the most important book you'll ever need to study about prioritization and related topics. This collection of practice exams teaches you the process of answering prioritization questions, but it is imperative that you have the basic knowledge about nursing skills, responsibilities, and patient needs. Use Saunder's Comprehensive Review book together with this workbook.

5. Kaplan's NCLEX reviewer on CD-ROM is also a good review material to have.

To see details of these books, just click on the links. You can purchase them from local bookstores, particularly at National Bookstore and my favorite C&E Bookstore. These books are in high-demand so call C&E to check if the books are in stock. There are copies being sold near the PRC compound in Morayta but don't expect the print quality to be as good.

For those who want the original books and who may not be able to purchase from local bookstores, you can buy them from Filipino Nursing Herald's Amazon Associates store. Some second-hand books are also available from Amazon's Web site.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Reviving immigration reform in the U.S.

The U.S. Congress, particularly the House of Representatives has revived the debates on immigration issues in the U.S. through the STRIVE Act. The Subcommittee on Immigration held its hearing on the proposed bill last Sept. 6.

I've been trying to find out if anything significant came out from that first hearing, but have found little news so far. It's still too early to tell what will come out of this new effort to put in place a new US immigration law but I'll keep this site updated on news about the proposal when they become available.

Some links to stories:
Heartbeatnews.com
Statesman Journal
OC Register

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Registration schedule for newly-passed RNs

Here's the registration schedule for nurses who just passed the June 2007 board exams. (Thanks, Noel, for sharing this with us.)

REGISTRATION SCHEDULE OF NEW NURSES (JUNE 2007 NURSE LICENSURE EXAMINATION)

A JOSE, Mona Rhina -- ALVARADO, Julie Ann (October 17)
ALVARADO, Maria Concepcion -- BACONAWA, Maria Cristina (October 18)
BACOS, Mardion May -- BERNAL, Valerie Joy (October 19)
BERNALDEZ, Cheyne Riz -- CALILONG, Ma. Corina (October 22)
CALILUNG, Jenny Pearl -- CHUA, Jay Anne (October 23)
CHUA, Jay-ann -- DAZA, Caridad (October 24)
DAZO, Mary Catherine - DITONA, Paula Marie (October 25)
DIUMANO, John Reynel - FACUNDO, Joanna Filipina (October 26)
FACUNLA. Gracelle Fatima -- GATBONTON, Vianca Mae (October 29)
GATCHALIAN, Alvin -- IGLESIA, Ma. Leonora Buna (October 30)
IGLESIAS, Viviel -- LAURENTE, Emil John (October 31)
LAURENTE, Ma. Therese Lonica -- MAGGAY, Pablito Benjamin II (Nov 2)
MAGHAMIL, Gilda Marilou -- MEDRANO, Jean S. (Nov 5)
MEDRANO, Joan May Aiza -- NG, Ruby Anne (Nov 6)
NGAN, Regina -- PANGAN, Maria Aromin (Nov 7)
PANGAN, Mariam -- QUESADA, Francis Leo (Nov 8)
QUESEA, Mark Koeman -- RODRIGO, Oliver Gil (Nov 9)
RODRIGO, Ralph -- SARMIENTO, Erin Kristelle (Nov 12)
SARMIENTO, Evelyn -- TALON, Gerard James (Nov 13)
TALON, Ma. Cecilia -- VALDEZ, Kelvin Jerick (Nov 14)
VALDEZ, Kenny Louie -- Zuiga, Marie Bernadette (Nov 15)

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

US Nursing Career Part 2: Payment methods for the NCLEX application

Every year, thousands of Filipino nurses aspire to migrate and become a licensed nurse in the US. Here's a practical guide intended to help Pinoy nurses achieve this dream. Because the application process requires several steps and there are ongoing issues related to foreign nurse employment in the US, we've broken down this feature article into a series. Read Part 1 of the Filipino Nursing Herald's Guide to Becoming a US RN by clicking here.

There are different methods for sending payments for the nursing registration application in the U.S.. Each board of nursing will have its own preferred method of payment. Going to the BON payment office is the best way to guarantee that your payment will be received, but if you're so many thousand kilometers away like in the Philippines, there are payment methods that you can use.

The most convenient payment method is using a credit card. Most BON will have a payment form attached to the application form. Simply fill out this form and send it together with your application form. As I've said in a previous post, the best way to send forms is by using a reputable door-to-door express courier like Fedex, DHL, or other courier service providers. Some of them, however, don't deliver to P.O. box addresses, so be sure to get the full street address of the BON. For example, click here to get the street address of CTS for Illinois applications, and click here for the California board's street address. Simply e-mail your chosen BON to get their full street address. If you wish to save, you can also use the EMS service at the postal office.

Some BONs have online payment facilities that let you pay for applications using a credit card. If you're using a public computer to access the Internet or if you're in an Internet cafe, be sure that you go to a trusted net cafe. For your own safety, clear the browsing history, including cookies and passwords, afetr using a public computer. To do this on Internet Explorer, click Tools - Internet Options - and then find the browsing history option and click delete.

If you don't have a credit card yet, you can use your parents' cards or your friends'. Aside from the card itself, get their complete billing address, too, because you'll need to input this the form.

Another payment method is by using a bank draft. A bank draft is requested from a bank branch where you have an account, either a savings or a current account. Some people in the forums claim that PNB provides bank draft services even to those who don't have accounts, however, when I checked with PNB, a bank officer said this wasn't true. Only people who have existing accounts can use the bank draft service.

Each bank will charge you differently for a bank draft. In BPI, where I've used the bank draft service, they charge 1/4 of 1% of the amount you request. There is a minimum charge of $5 plus another fee, called a DST, of P0.30 for every P200 if the draft is paid in pesos. They usually debit the charge or get the payment directly from your bank account.

For instructions how to fill out the bank draft, please review the application packet from yur chosen BON.

Each BON charge different payment fees and the total cost will depend on what other documents they require. Some state BONs have pretty straightforward fees. For example, New Mexico charges $160, Vermont asks for $150, and California charges $107 for the registration by exam application and the fingerprint application. Application for the Illinois BON, on the other hand, is costlier because aside from the BON application itself, which costs $79, you'll also need to pay for the fingerprint processing ($54) and the Credentials Evaluation Service or CES ($278 for the healthcare report or $328 for the full-education report, plus $50 processing fee). If the state BON you're applying for requires the CGFNS certificate, this will cost you $368 plus $50 order fee.

When sending a bank draft, again use a courier service for security reasons.

You can call or e-mail your BON after a few days to check if they've received your payment.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hotels and other room accommodations near Pearson Vue Manila

Here's a list of hotels and other accommodation providers near the Pearson Vue test center in Makati City. I'll try to add a couple more later on. I advise those who are interested to avail of accommodations to book as early as possible. I'm only providing a list of the places I know which are close to the test center, however, please try to get more feedback from other people about rates and the quality of service they provide.

If you can, call the hotel instead of booking online. Online booking rates are usually higher, and sometimes, promo rates are not posted fast enough.

City Garden Hotel Makati - http://www.citygardenhotels.com/makati/main.html
Salcedo Suites - http://www.salcedosuites-makati.com
Fersall Inn - http://www.fersalinn.com.ph/makati/index.php
Makati Prime Tower Suites - http://www.makatiprimetowersuites.com
Oxford Suites - http://www.oxfordsuites-makati.com/
Sunnete Tower - http://www.sunette.com.ph/index.php
Mandarin Oriental Manila - http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/511000010.asp
Makati Palace Hotel - http://www.makatipalacehotel.com.ph/mph2/
CEO Suites - http://www.mnlceosuites.com.ph/
Jupiter Suites - http://www.jupiterarms.com
Millennium Plaza - http://www.millenniumplaza.com.ph
Century Citadel Inn - (63+2) 897-2370, (63+2) 897-2666
Traveler's Inn Makati - (63+2) 897-1771
Tiara Oriental Hotel (contributed by little flower) - (63+2) 7297888 e-mail: sales@tiara.com.ph

**St. Illian's Inn - http://www.saintilliansinn.com/index.php
This is a budget hotel in Makati which offers one of the lower rates. It's not as close to Trident Tower as the other hotels, but it's not too far either. Getting to the hotel is a bit complicated, so if you're coming from the airport, be sure to print a map of the hotel's location to show the cab driver.

Getting to Trident Tower (Pearson Vue Manila)
From St. Illian's Inn, you can either take a cab to the Pearson Vue test center or you can walk (1-2 minutes) to Chino Roces Ave. (formerly Pasong Tamo), cross the street, get on a jeepney to PRC (a different PRC from the one in Morayta) and get down Buendia Ave. (your landmark is Mcdonald's). Ride another jeepney to Buendia-MRT or Guadalupe and then get off the old Shell Maya gas station, right after RCBC Plaza. (It seems that the Shell Maya gas station has been demolished and there's some construction work going on there. If you see the RCBC Plaza, then that's your cue that you're already near Trident Tower, which is the first building after the old gas station.)

TRAVEL AGENCY
(Just a note: Hotel or travel firm listings here should not be seen as endorsements for their services. This list should only serve as a guide. Please practice due diligence when choosing a provider listed here. Thanks.)

TRIPLE V TRAVEL & TOURS
Tels: (632) 443 6226 / 489 6781
Mobile: (0922) 8750213
Email: triplevtravel@yahoo.com

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Result of 2007 DOLE voluntary retake of test 3 and 5 June 2006 NLE

Click here for the results

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List of top nursing schools & examinees of the June 2007 Philippine Nurse Licensure Exam

Click here for the results

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Final Results of the June 2007 Philippine Nurse Licensure Exam

Click here for results. Congratulations to all who passed the June 2007 Philippine nurse licensure exam.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Passports, IDs & NCLEX

I feel sorry for those who were not allowed to take their NCLEX because they forgot to sign their passports. International NCLEX test-takers, including those who will take the test in the Philippines, are required to present their Authorization to Test (ATT) and their passports as proof of identification. The passport is the only form of identification accepted by Pearson Vue, which administers the NCLEX, from international applicants. Sadly, some have been barred from taking the exam on their test date because they forgot to affix their signature on their passports.

This is a very simple matter, actually. Signing your name on any ID is a very basic rule that that requires the smallest of efforts. Unfortunately, some still fall into trouble because they forget to sign their name before presenting their passport to the receptionist at the Pearson Vue test center.

We received a report that said some were turned away from the Pearson Vue test center in Manila because of the lack of signatures on the applicants' passports. Being considerate, I suppose there's a possibility that one might forget to sign one's passport especially when it just arrived in one's hands--never been used for travel abroad or probably never been opened at all.

Usually when you travel outside the country and your passport lacks a signature, the immigration officer alerts you to it and asks you to sign it before he allows you to proceed. In hotels that I've been to, reception personnel also ask you to sign your passport when it's unsigned.

The first time one receives a passport, everyone wants to take a look at it. We Filipinos love to make fun of photos on IDs and, I guess, the passport is the biggest ID of all. Just show your passport to other members of your family and they'll notice everything, including the zit on your nose when you had your passport photo taken. Well, they might even notice your signature or the lack of it. I once had a co-worker who made it her job to check on everyone's signature including the one in our passports, just to see whose John Hancock looked elaborately funny. My neighbor also had a brilliant dog once who barked when it saw people who had poor fashion sense and wore clothes that had mismatched colors. The dog was so smart, I bet that if I had shown it an unsigned passport, it would have bitten off my hand. Everybody else seems to notice an unsigned passport, except it's owner.

In Pearson Vue's Hong Kong test center, there's a sign posted at the door that reminds test-takers to sign their passports before presenting them to the receptionist who conducts the identity check. As though the sign was not enough, the next thing that the Pearson Vue personnel tells you after asking if you already wish to go through with the check-in process is to remind you to sign your passport first. Once you've handed your passport, then the security check begins and if you've still forgotten to affix your precious signature despite repeated reminders, you'll have to be turned away like a dog, well maybe not like a dog, but you'll probably feel like one after throwing away the $350 you've already paid just to get there. Once you're turned away, you'll have to go through the registration process once more and pay another $350 to Pearson Vue.

If there's no sign reminding applicants about their passport signatures that's posted on Pearson Vue Manila's doors yet , then it's time to take a cue from the Hong Kong center. I would also suggest they get the approval of Mayor Binay of Makati and hire MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando as consultant--perhaps they can put up signages all throughout Buendia Ave. and, of course, have them painted in Bayani's trademark pink.

I can imagine the signages already: "Bawal ang walang pirma sa passport. Nakakamatay."

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update on the June 2007 nurse licensure exam results

Those waiting for the June 2007 nurse licensure exam can sleep well tonight. With the first day of the NCLEX in Manila tomorrow, the PRC won't announce the results of the local board exams just yet, according to my source.

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Pinoy nurses take NCLEX in Manila for the first time

Tomorrow, Aug. 23 is a big day for Filipino nurses as the first batch of Pinoy applicants take the NCLEX right here in Manila.

Pearson Vue, the authorized test administrator of the NCLEX which is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) in the US, began scheduling exams in the Manila center on July 13 this year and testing will finally begin tomorrow.

Contact information:
Pearson Professional Centers-Manila
27th Floor, Trident Tower
312 Senator Gil Puyat Avenue,
Makati City, Manila 1227
Tel. +612-9478-5400 Extension 3 (Sydney office)

Get a map to the testing center here and directions here.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

US Nursing Career Part 1: NCLEX Application

Every year, thousands of Filipino nurses aspire to migrate and become a licensed nurse in the US. Here's a practical guide intended to help Pinoy nurses achieve this dream. Because the application process requires several steps and there are ongoing issues related to foreign nurse employment in the US, we've broken down this feature article into a series. This is Part 1 of the Filipino Nursing Herald's Guide to Becoming a US RN.

What is the NCLEX-RN
To be able to practice as a nurse in the US and its territories, you must be registered in the US state you wish to work in. Each state has a nursing board that regulates the registration process. A major requirement for registration is that applicants must pass an examination that "measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level registered nurse".

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops this examination, which is called the Nursing Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). There are two types: the NCLEX for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and the NCLEX for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Choose a State
Before you can apply for the NCLEX-RN, you must FIRST meet the requirements set by the nursing board in your chosen state, which assumes that you already have a US state in mind to where you wish to migrate.

The first step towards a US nursing career is deciding to which of the 50 US states you want to apply. This decision may be based on a number of factors, such as, family (Your family is already based in a particular state), support system (You have a relative or a close friend living there), work environment (You like the weather, attractions, etc.), cost of living (Different states have different wage standards and cost of living rates) or work opportunities (You already have a potential employer), among others.

Once you've already chosen a state, the next step is to find out its requirements for nursing registration. The requirements usually vary, but some common requirements are: submission of an application form, fingerprinting and security background checks; and of course, a passing score in the NCLEX-RN.

If you've picked a state, go the Web site of your chosen states' nursing board. You can simply go to Google and search (example: "California nursing board") or you can get a list of contact information in the NCSBN Web site.

Some nurse applicants choose not to apply initially in their desired state, instead they apply in a different state which has fewer requirements or perhaps process applications faster, and then endorse later on to their desired state. Personally, I think this is often unnecessary and presents some issues later on. First of all, you'll be spending more than what is really needed because, in effect, you will be applying to more than one state and endorsement also requires fees to be paid. If you endorse to another state, you will still be required to satisfy all their requirements, for example, if they require a credentials evaluation, you will still have to comply with this even though it was not asked for in the first state where you applied for registration.

To illustrate further, a number of nurses choose to register initially with New Mexico or Vermont but their real desired state is California. While applying in either New Mexico and Vermont may cut the processing time, it does not guarantee that you will be able to work in the US much faster. You will still need to meet California's requirements to be able to endorse your license and this presents additional problems, which we'll discuss later on.

CGFNS Certification Program
Some state nursing boards require applicants to secure a Certification from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). The Certification Program (CGFNS CP) is a three-step process.

The first step is a credentials evaluation, where you will be required to submit information on your professional and secondary education, as well as license registration in your home country. Typically, transcript of records and license information are sent directly by your school or regulatory agency. In the Philippines, for example, you must request your TOR--using a form that is included in the application packet that you can download from either your nursing board or CGFN--from your school and the school will have to mail your records to CGFNS or your nursing board directly. You must also request the needed license information from the PRC who will send the documents directly to your US registration body.

The second step is the CGFNS Qualifying Exam, which is a test of nursing knowledge.

The third step is submission of a passing score in an English proficiency exam. Applicants usually take either the IELTS or the TOEFL iBT. (More on these later.)

The CGFNS Certificate program costs about $418 and some states require applicants to secure this first before they can be allowed to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

US nursing boards DO NOT require applicants to hold a nursing license in their home countries. However, to be able to qualify for the CGFNS CP, you must hold a valid license in your home country. So, a local license is only needed if you are applying in a US state that still requires the CGFNS CP.

About 23 US States have already removed the CGFNS CP from their list of requirements. Click here for a list of states that no longer require the CGFNS CP.

Credentials evaluation
Often, state nursing boards will require a credentials evaluation in lieu of the CGFNS CP. You can request a Credentials Evaluation report from either the CGFNS or another company authorized by the state BON. I would advice those applying for a Credentials Evaluation to request it from CGFNS because all state boards usually recognize the CGFNS. Other providers of the service may only be recognized in a particular state, so that when you endorse to another state, you will have to file another Credentials Evaluation request with a company recognized by the state.

The CGFNS offers two types of evaluation reports: the Full Education Course-by-Course Report and the Healthcare Profession and Science Report. The latter is usually accepted by state BONs but if you wish to go to graduate school in the US later on, you should get the full course report. Again, follow the procedure mentioned earlier for requesting and sending your school records and professional license information.

Download Application Forms
Once you've found a state and researched the requirements set by the state board of nursing, download the application packet. This packet contains information about the NCLEX, application procedure, requirements, fees, and the application forms.

When filling out the forms, make sure the information you submit is accurate. Double-check names, numbers and dates. Occassionally, applications are delayed because of inaccurate dates of graduation or entry in the school. Be sure to ask your registrar the exact dates and be consistent.

When you download the application packet, request a fingerprint card as well. For information of processing fingerprint cards in the Philippines, please check out this guide.

NEXT: Payment procedures, waiting times, and related issues

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No results yet for June 2007 nursing boards

I can emphatize with those waiting for the results of the June 2007 nurse licensure examination. I know how it feels to wait for something that you know would come out anytime soon but you don't know when exactly, so you anxiously wait up every night for the latest news updates, hoping to see your name among hundreds of other nurse applicants that passed the nursing board exams. It's a terrible feeling but you also know that the agony of waiting would be over soon and I hope that relieves you of some of the pressure and anxiety somehow.

As always, this space will keep you posted of the latest updates once they're available.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

UK nurses struggle to find jobs

We've known about the troubles faced by UK nurses in finding jobs in their own country for quite some time. As new nurses join the workforce, the dearth of available nursing jobs again hit the headlines.

Although the UK still accepts foreign nurses WITH highly specialized skills (OR, ICU, etc.), it is very difficult to get an employer from there now and perhaps up to the near future.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

US Visa Bulletin for Sept

The U.S. Department of State has released the Visa bulletin for Sept. As expected, the Employment-based category 3 is oversubscribed and the priority date is set at Aug. 1, 2002. This means that only applicants with priority dates earlier than that will be allocated a visa at this time.

The Oct. Visa bulletin is expected to bring better news because the start of the agency's fiscal year usually offers new visa allocations.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Australian recruiters offer to subsidize OFW recruitment

A local recruitment firm and its Australian partner are discussing a proposal for the Australian firm to subsidize the cost of deploying Filipino workers Down Under. If this proposal pans out, Filipinos who are recruited to Australia would have less financial burdens to worry about.

Read the news here.

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Release date for June 2007 nurse licensure exam results

Talking to my source again today, it seems that Aug. 21 might be too soon to expect the PRC to finish compiling the final list of passers. The BON was scheduled to convene starting today but it could take a few more days to prepare the final list.

What's significant is that the PRC is in the final stages of releasing the results already and we would finally know who passed or not in a week or two.

To all who took the June 2007 licensure exam, you're already in the homestretch of your wait. Goodluck to all!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Updates on June 2007 Nurse Licensure Exam

Here's the latest update on the June 2007 Philippine nurse licensure examination. Got this information from a very reliable source.

The BON will convene to deliberate on the results of the June 2007 board exams starting Aug. 16. I understand this will take about three days. Exam results COULD be announced on Aug. 21, or maybe even as early as Aug. 20. Of course, the PRC may still turn around and release the results much later than that up to Aug. 31, but at least we know they've already started the process of finalizing the results.

I'm not sure about what goes on during the deliberations. From what I've gathered, officials perform some statistical treatment on the raw scores to determine the cut-off passing mark. From this, they can determine who passed or not.

There's an unconfirmed RUMOR that initial reports showed only 29% passed the June boards, but, my source says the numbers are now higher and can only go higher once the deliberations are done.

I'll post more information on the June 2007 nursing licensure exam once they're available.

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Basic IVT training schedules

Here's a list of IVT training programs in Manila and nearby provinces for the month of Aug. and Sept.

August
14-16 Lung Center of the Philippines
15-17 San Juan de Dios
16-18 Martinez Memorial Hospital
16-18 Ospital ng Maynila
26-28 Unciano Hospital Antipolo

September
11-13 Bulacan Provincial Hospital
26-28 Angeles University Foundation
18-20 Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Getting to Pearson Vue Manila office

Test-takers of the NCLEX will sit for the exam for the first time right here in Manila starting Aug. 23. This is indeed a big relief for Filipino applicants and by extension, all other applicants from other neighboring ASEAN countries. Compared to Hong Kong, accommodations and the cost of basic goods is surely much cheaper in the Philippines.

Earlier, we uploaded a map to locate the Pearson Professional Centers-Manila test center. If you're taking public transportation and need directions to the test center, here's a short guide to help you.

Getting there:
From Quezon City -- The fastest way is by riding the MRT. Get off Buendia station. Walk towards the Shell gas station, across it is a jeepney terminal. Get on any of the jeepneys plying the Buendia route and ask the driver to drop you off at RCBC Plaza. After you get off, cross the street and walk towards the Shell Maya gas station. Trident Tower is a building or two after the gas station.

Another option is by taking a bus from Buendia station after getting off the MRT. Take the Ayala-bound bus and ask to be let off at RCBC Plaza. Walk towards the back of RCBC Plaza where you'll see the Shell Maya gas station.

From Marikina -- A number of FX or shuttle vans travel to Makati daily. Take an FX to Makati. Usually shuttle vans turn around before reaching RCBC Plaza, but ask the driver if he'll pass by RCBC Plaza. If not, ask to be let off either along Buendia Ave. and take a jeepney from there to RCBC Plaza or along Ayala Ave. where you can walk towards RCBC Plaza. When you reach RCBC Plaza, walk towards the Shell Maya station. Trident Tower is a building or two away from the gas station.

From Parañaque -- You can take a bus or a shuttle van to Makati. Most shuttle vans let you off at the Landmark mall terminal. From Landmark, take a jeepney to Pacific Star building at Buendia and from there take another jeepney towards RCBC Plaza.

From Taft -- Take a bus to Makati, preferably one that will pass by Buendia Ave. Get off at Shell Maya gas station, right after RCBC Plaza. Walk towards Trident Tower right after the gas station.

If you take the LRT, get off at the Buendia station, and ride a bus to Makati. There are two types of buses: one that passes along Ayala Ave. and one that passes along Buendia Ave. take the bus that goes through Buendia and get off at Shell Maya gas station right after the Ayala-Buendia intersection. You can still take the bus that passes through Ayala Ave. but you have to get off before the Ayala-Buendia intersection. You can walk to RCBC Plaza and Shell Maya gas station from there, and then to the Pearson office.

From the Domestic Airport -- you can get a cab to Makati or take a bus to Makati. You can either get off at Buendia Ave. or get off Taft Ave. and take the MRT to Buendia station. Once in Buendia, take a jeepney across the Shell gas station to RCBC Plaza. Trident Tower is a building or two away from the Shell Maya gas station.

From Ayala MRT station -- If you prefer to get off at the Ayala MRT station, take an Ayala Loop jeepney and get off at Makati Medical Hospital. Walk towards Ayala Ave., cross the street to RCBC Plaza and walk towards the Shell Maya gas station. Trident Tower is a building or two away from the gas station.

Special note: Makati is notorious for its horrendous traffic jams. So, scout the area before your test date and go early to the test center on the big day itself.

If possible, don't schedule an early morning or late afternoon exam to avoid rush hour.

You don't have to stay near the test center, but there are several hotels, condotels, and places that offer accommodations in Makati. We'll provide a list of hotels near the test site soon.

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Filipino caregivers in the UK get work extension, pay hike

Here's great news for Filipino nurses, caregivers and midwives in the UK: the British government has reversed its policy of denying work extensions to non-EU health workers and even raised salaries from €12,500 British pounds (P1.156 million) to €14,600 (P1.351 million) annually.

Across the UK, health workers, called carers, working in nursing homes had faced deportation after the UK began denying work extensions to those who come from non-EU countries. This ensued because of a policy, drawn up earlier, that favors workers from EU-member states.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Doctors leaving as nurses; opportunities in Japan, Australia

Just got back from a trip, so I haven't been able to update lately. I've got a whole chest-full of new ideas that I plan to write about and I think I just might have the extra time now to write more, so expect better things from this blog.

In the meantime, I was surfing the Web for some relevant news that I missed while I was away and here are some of the noteworthy issues that you might also like to look up:

Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel was quoted in the papers this week saying the controversial JPEPA might be ratified by our Senate. This legislation will, among other things, open up work opportunities for Filipino caregivers and nurses in Japan. Initially the number of workers have been limited to 400, but hopefully this would increase in the future.

Australia needs nurses
Raul V. Hernandez, honorary consul to Melbourne, said Australia would need 10,000 nurses in the next three years.

Philippine doctors leaving as nurses
The issue of doctors leaving the country as nurses heats up with renewed animosity from the Health Secretary.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Five things you can do while waiting for the June 2007 licensure exam results

The Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) says that the results of the June 2007 Philippine nurse licensure exam won't be available until Aug. 15 or onwards, so while waiting, here are some things you can do to relieve your stress and make the most out of this quiet period.

1. Go to a park, a beach, or a nature trail. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to breathe in some fresh air and take in the soothing effect of nature's healing charms. Forget the mall, you've been there every day after school or clinical duty.

2. Cook for your parents or your loved ones. If you don't regularly do this, now is the perfect time to show some appreciation for your parents. If you're the regular cook in the house, prepare something special--a dish you've never cooked before. Remember that a happy stomach is the source of all happiness. For guys who don't know how to cook, this is highly recommended because the effort already makes it extra special.

3. Bring a cake or anything simple but tasty to your school dean or registrar. While you're back in school, have them fill out your NCLEX application form as well and request for a letter of recommendation while you're at it. This waiting period is the best time to start your application for a nursing license in the US.

The first thing you need to do, is to decide which US state you want to work in and then determine what requirements they need (More about this in my upcoming posts).

4. Visit your favorite clinical instructor. Bring a simple gift, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. When filling out application forms later on, both for local and international employment, you'll always be asked for references, and clinical instructors (especially head nurses or even chief nurses) make good references. Don't just place their names on your application though, talk to them first and get their approval. Give them a heads-up so that they won't be surprised if someone called them to ask about you.

5. Pick up a book. Start reading again. Pick up a fiction book or something that's not nursing related and alternate reading with a nursing book that prepares you for the NCLEX-RN. The Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN and the Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN are must-haves, as well as LaCharity's Prioritization, Delegation Assignment.

These are just some simple things you can do while waiting for that big announcement. Goodluck!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Waiting for the June 2007 Philippine Nurse Licensure Exam results

The anxiety of waiting for the results of a major test, like the June 2007 Philippine Nurse Licensure exam, builds up when you expect that an announcement would come out soon. As the days draw nearer to a target date or a day that you'd expect the results to be published, the tension gradually intensifies. Some people cope adequately, while others lose sleep, lose appetite, and even, sometimes, lose their mind. (I'm exaggerating.)

The Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), which administers the nursing licensure test, earlier said results for the June 2007 board exams would be available by the middle of August. I assume that's from Aug. 15 onwards, or about two months after the exams were conducted in various parts of the country.

Throughout the history of PRC, they've been terrible at calculations and predictions. Of course, you have to marvel at their efficiency and speed when processing license tests for master plumbers, foresters, and certified mill foremen. But one has to wonder if they use a different abacus or crystal ball when predicting release dates for results of nursing and teacher tests.

When I took the boards, the PRC's calculations were off and the results came out a month later. Never mind that there were about 40,000 or so examinees then, but an efficient agency would have known that years ahead and made adjustments. That's where planning comes in. If you think about it, the PRC ideally should be the most efficient of all regulatory agencies in the country. Why shouldn't it be? You've got all the country's best and brightest professionals as members.

Well, alright, there are over 78,000 nursing applicants that took the test last June. But they knew that even before the first nursing graduate applied for the test.

Hopefully, the PRC doesn't overshoot so much its target of releasing the results by mid-Aug. With a delay in the results, they're turning Labor Secretary Arturo Brion into a Madam Auring copycat, complete with the wayward prophecies. Didn't he announce earlier that the results for the June 2006 retakers would come out three weeks after the board exam?

NEXT: In my next post, I'll give some suggestions about what you can do while waiting for the results of the June 2007 nurse licensure exam.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Filipina nurse awarded Best Nurse Leader in US

Filipina nurse Lily Maniquiz Lara has been awarded the 2006 Best Nurse Leader in a search conducted by Advance, a US-based nursing publication.

Lara was cited primarily for her leadership in the development and implementation of a successful program that reduced patient falls by as much as 80% in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System's Nursing Home Care Unit 213-2, among her other accomplishments.

The Philippine Nurses Association-America in Southern California had earlier awarded Lara with the Excellence in Nursing Management and she had been previously awarded the Excellence in Nursing Innovation in 2004.

Advance also cited Lara's effective management style, which helped her get a 95% staff satisfaction mark in a survey conducted by the publication. "When it comes to pulling people together to get the job done, Lara relies on her innate ability to connect with a wide variety of personalities to create trusting relationships," Advance writer Luke Cowles wrote about the Pinay nurse.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Emerging nurse specialty: Blackbelt Nursing

If you haven't decided yet on which nursing specialty you want to go into or if you're tired of the humdrum of the medical-surgical floor, here's an emerging nursing specialty that you might want to check out. It's called "blackbelt nursing"--where the first intervention for an aggressive or violent client is to deliver a karate chop as a sedative.

I'm just kidding, of course. But you never know how things progress in the future.

Check out this story from news.com.au:
Docs, nurses take self-defense

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Sample NCLEX Training Videos

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