MANILA, Philippines - More and more Filipino nurses are now opting to work in the United Kingdom than in the United States, according to local recruiters.
Citing data from the UK Borders and Immigration Agency, recruitment leaders yesterday said that the number of Filipino nurses deployed to UK in the past three years has already surpassed those deployed to the US in the same period.
From 2007 to 2009, an annual average of 7,000 Filipino nurses flew to UK under a study and work program that allowed them to study and work there at the same time.
Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), on the other hand, showed that less than 300 registered Filipino nurses went to the US to work during the three-year period.
Recruiters noted that Filipino nurses aspiring to work in the United States have to wait five to seven years for H 1-B working visas and between two to three years for EB 3 (immigrant visas) before they can enter the US.
Those hoping to study and work in UK can leave the country within six months.
Recruitment leaders further noted that the recent expansion of the UK study programs may give wider opportunities to thousands more Filipinos, including non-healthcare workers.
The imposition of new rules for Tier 4 student visa applications early this year may also favor Filipino nurses who want to be registered nurses and become permanent residents there.
Just a ‘temporary slack’
But the prevailing low demand for nurses abroad, especially in the US, is just temporary, according to Arellano University chairman Francisco P.V. Cayco.
Cayco said after the “temporary slack” in global demand for nurses, there could be a sudden surge especially once the effects of the enactment of the Health Care Reform Bill under the administration of US President Barrack Obama, takes root.
In an interview with The STAR earlier this week, Cayco said that with the potential rise in demand for nurses, those struggling with their nursing education would be in the best position to take advantage.
Cayco emphasized that the health care reforms being implemented by the Obama administration made health and medical care more affordable among Americans, which would subsequently result to a higher demand in nurses and doctors in US hospitals.
He said this turnaround was the reason why Arellano University is still giving their nursing school its deserved importance in their overall effort to further improve the quality of education in all their college programs.
“The temporary slack is not a reason to give our nursing education programs less importance,” Cayco said, pointing out that the weak demand for nurses in the US was not necessarily the case in other countries such as in the UK and Australia.
He boasted that just last month, the Edith Cowan University in Western Australia had forged agreement with Arellano University where their Filipino nursing students who have completed two years of studies can enroll directly with their Australian counterpart, which would put them in a position to become registered nurses in Australia immediately after finishing the nursing program.
Cayco said that despite its open enrolment policy, the quality of education in the College of Nursing of Arellano University Manila has remained high.
The school landed in the ranks of Metro Manila’s top nursing schools with a high student population whose graduates performed impressively in the 2009 nursing licensure examinations of the Professional Regulation Commission for 2009.
Cayco expressed overwhelming pride over the impressive performance of their graduates in last year’s round of PRC examinations, saying it will serve to inspire them in their bid to provide an affordable, but high quality nursing education to poor but deserving Filipinos wanting to become nurses whether here or abroad.
He noted that the high passing percentage rate of their nursing school’s graduates was a difficult feat considering that they have an “open” admission policy that does not bar high school students from public high schools who tend to have low academic competencies.
Cayco added that Arellano University-Manila’s College of Nursing has the lowest tuition rate among the big Metro Manila nursing schools that topped the 2009 PRC examinations.
“A lot of the big schools they have entrance exams. So they only admit those who already have high academic competencies,” he said.
Cayco said that these “raw material” from the public schools in Metro Manila and even from the provinces, have notable deficiencies in English, Science, and Math.
Apart from giving them a nursing education, Cayco said Arellano tries to address the academic deficiencies caused by the sub-standard basic education they were given.
“We give them a chance. We do not discriminate of you graduated from a public school and you have low academic proficiencies. But in spite of that, with our low tuition, we still produce hundreds of board passers every year,” he said.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) earlier released the lists of top nursing schools in the country, based on their graduates passing percentage in the 2009 PRC licensure examinations in June and November of last year. – Rainier Allan Ronda