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Senate, House seek inquiry on nursing board exam

By JUDE C. GALFORD III and BEN R. ROSARIO

Both the Upper and the Lower Houses seek a congressional investigation of the recent nursing board examination results said to have been rigged by Professional Regulation Board (PRC) insiders.

The said exam, given in June, was taken by a total 42,006 nursing course graduates. Forty two percent or 17,871 passed.

Sen. Richard Gordon filed Resolution 516 calling for a congressional inquiry on the leakage, noting that cheating in board exams has put the integrity of the PRC on the line.

"The rest of the world looks to the Philippines to fill the nursing shortages in their countries due to the reputation of Filipino nurses for their competence, diligence and compassion," said Gordon.

Rep. Prospero Pichay (Lakas, Surigao del Sur), on the other hand, asked the Committee on Good Government to conduct the investigation, airing concern over the adverse effects that the irregularity might cause on the country’s nursing profession and the big demand for Filipino nurses abroad.

Gordon said the recent controvery hounding the nursing board has placed the entire government system in question especially in administering state exams.

"The nursing board leakage is just the latest scandal that undermines public trust in the nurses produced by Philipine schools following allegations of loose accreditation of nursing schools and the Commission on Higher Educations’s feeble enforcement of academic standards in nursing schools," Gordon said.

In an interview, he said the Senate Committee on Civil Service will probe the matter so as to put an end to this fraud.

"These people should be prosecuted and put behind jail," he said complaining that everything now is being rigged including elections. "What will happen to our country when even medicines are being faked? Unscrupulous people who engage in unethical practices, such as cheating in professional board examinations should be punished accordingly to discourage such behavior and ensure that the professional and ethical standing to our nurses are beyond reporach."

Pichay, vice chair of the Commission on Appointments, said the extent of the controversy reaches far and wide, even placing in an untenable footing the chances of the country’s medical practitioners in the global workforce.

"This reported leakage goes deeper than the dubious integrity of the PRC and Board of Nursing (BON) but also to the essential text of the genuineness of our nursing profession’s competency and accordingly, the quality of health care given to our people," said Pichay.

Pichay said the House’s probe should look into the alleged involvement of two BON officials and a review center with various branches nationwide in the leakage of the test questions.

The congressman said the probe would also necessitate a thorough review of relevant national laws, including the Nursing Act of 2002 and the PRC Modernization Act of 2000.

The reported cheating in the nursing board was first reported when an irate examinee complained that a seatmate during the tests passed it without bothering to show up on one of the examination dates. Despite efforts by the PRC to play down the controversy, other schools have likewise launched a protest questioning the integrity of the board exams.

Other examinees have also admitted to obtaining an advance copy of answer sheets three days before the actual test date.

But this kind of controversy is not new to the nursing board. A couple of years ago, the issue of massive cheating surfaced when a relatively unheralded medical school dominated the top 10 of the said test. During investigations, it was learned that answers were also dished out to paying patrons but no one was indicted.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now conducting its own investigation after several nursing schools complained.

A postponement of the oath taking of successful examinees was rejected by the PRC which declared that the supposed leakage had no glaring impact on the test.

Source: Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/MTNN2006072970364.html

- brewed

So are they going to push through with the oathtaking or they decided to postpone it for a while?

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