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PRC nursing board members resign

PRC nursing board members resign
By Sheila Crisostomo

The four remaining members of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)’s Board of Nursing (BON) have tendered their resignations over the controversial leakage in the June 2006 licensure examination for nursing.

However, their resignations were not accepted because the positions cannot be left vacant.

PRC spokeswoman Avelina de la Rea said nursing board chairman Eufemia Octaviano and members Remedios Fernandez, Letty Kuan and Estrelita Galutira still have to prepare the questionnaire for the December 2006 licensure examination.

De la Rea emphasized that the four officials were cleared of any involvement in the leakage by a fact-finding body created by the PRC to investigate the anomaly.

De la Rea explained that the Philippine Nurses’ Association (PNA) nominates the members of the BON. For each vacant position, it needs to submit at least five names to the PRC. The commission will then evaluate the nominees and choose three whose credentials will be submitted to Malacañang.

"So far, they have nominated only seven and two of them are over-aged," she said. The last day for the PNA to submit its nominees was the other day.

The two other members of the board of nursing who were directly implicated in the leakage — Anesia Dionisio and Virginia Madeja — also offered to resign but their resignations were not accepted, as the investigation is ongoing.

The fact-finding board found out that the questions that were leaked to board examinees came from the manuscripts of the two officials.

During the consultative meeting the PRC held with the deans of nursing schools and nursing leaders, De la Rea said the PRC had decided to allow the examinees last June to voluntary re-take the licensure examination in December.

"Many may want to retake the examination because of what happened. They can do so but they must execute a waiver that they are willing to give up their (June) grade," she explained.

The PRC had already nullified the leaked questions and adjusted the computation grades without sacrificing the integrity of the entire examination.

With that measure, De la Rea said the advantage of those who benefited from the leakage had been taken away.

While some 1,000 nursing graduates trooped to the PRC yesterday to call for a retake of the examinations last June, many frown at the suggestion that they retake the exam.

"Why blame us for the mess that a few persons made?" asked Vernon Peralta, a nursing graduate of the St. Louis University in Baguio City who passed the exam.

The topnotcher of the controversial test, Gringo Sandiego, also said that it is "very unfair" for the examinees to re-take the test.

Sandiego, a graduate of the University of Pangasinan who topped the board last June with a grade of 83.20, told The STAR in a phone interview that he is supporting the signature campaign initiated by Manila students to say "no to the nursing exam retake."

He added that authorities should focus on the investigation rather than on matters like ordering examinees to retake the test.

Among those who are calling for the June examinees to re-take the test is Sen. Richard Gordon, reportedly "to establish the credibility and integrity of Filipino nurses."

In a statement, Gordon said that if the examinees who took the controversial exams are passed, the "credibility and integrity" of Filipino nurses would suffer.

"There would be less demand for Philippine nurses among hospitals and medical centers, especially in foreign countries. Even the innocent — those who passed the tests without cheating — would suffer," he said.

Meanwhile, UP-Manila College of Nursing professors Doctors Cora Añonuevo and Fe Marilyn Lorenzo said in the forum last Saturday that the leakage is a symptom of the present crisis in the country’s health care system.

Lorenzo noted the deteriorating quality of nursing graduates, as shown by the decreasing number of board passers.

Citing a decade-long study on the passing rate of nursing graduates, she said that before 2000, the passing rate was 57 percent. In 2000, it was 54 percent. But in 2006, only 42 percent passed the test, even with the alleged leakage involved.

With the proliferation of nursing schools. Lorenzo said there are more schools now that produce low-quality graduates.

Lorenzo was previously a member of the technical group assigned by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to monitor nursing schools. She resigned because Malacañang reportedly did not adopt the group’s policy recommendations on improving the country’s nursing and health care system.

Among the group’s recommendations is to adopt a nursing curriculum that caters to the country’s needs rather than mass producing nurses for export.

Lorenzo explained that six out of 10 nurses go abroad annually, which affects local hospital operations and health care delivery.

Dr. Ana Marie Leung, a graduate of the UP-Manila College of Medicine and now serves as director of the Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore), affirmed that "instead of strengthening the public health care system, the government promotes a labor export policy which includes our nurses."

Leung said that in the past four years alone, there were around 20,000 nursing graduates but 50,000 Filipino nurses went abroad. She estimates that 80 percent of public health doctors have also enrolled in a nursing course. — With Artemio Dumlao, Eva Visperas


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