Nursing Pin Photo by Arleney

MANILA — The number of Filipino nurses seeking jobs in the United States decreased by nearly 50 percent from January to June this year, emphasizing the urgency of looking for new foreign labor markets that will employ them.

Only 2,984 Filipino nurses sought employment in the United States for the six-month period. The number is 46 percent lower than the 5,553 who applied last year, LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) party-list Rep. Arnel Ty reported.

Citing statistics from America’s National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Ty noted that only 1,530 Filipino nurses took the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the first time from April to June this year. It was 999 fewer than the 2,529 in the same quarter in 2010.

From January to March, Ty said only 1,454 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time, down 1,570 from 3,024 in the same three-month period in 2010.

Without counting repeaters, the party-list lawmaker said a total of 142,435 Filipino nurses have taken the NCLEX since 1995, in the hopes of pursuing their careers in America.

“At least 60 percent of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX eventually pass, if not on their first attempt, on their second take,” Ty noted.

Ty has been pushing for new legislation that would establish a special local jobs plan for the growing number of unemployed Filipino nurses, estimated at more than 200,000 by the Department of Health as of March 31.

Under House Bill 4582, the jobs plan would be an expanded version of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service, the short-lived government project that enlisted nurses to improve healthcare in the 1,000 poorest towns in 2009.

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The proposed legislation seeks to install a Special Program for the Employment of Nurses in Urban and Rural Services (Nurse), which hopes to mobilize a total of 10,000 practitioners every year. They would each serve a six-month tour of duty, and get a monthly stipend not lower than the amount commensurate to Salary Grade 15, the higher starting pay for public nurses mandated by a 2002 law.

Ty also cited the need for the government to push for the opening of new foreign labor markets for Filipino nurses. “We can no longer count on the US labor market for jobs.”