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Don't hire new grads, dean tells U.S. nurses

Don't hire new grads, dean tells U.S. nurses



NURSES in the United States involved directly in the recruitment of nurses from the Philippines should consider only candidates with a minimum two- to three-year work experience and completely desist from hiring fresh graduates.

By doing so, the Filipino nursing community in the United States would help ensure the continued flow of only qualified and well-trained professionals into the American healthcare system.

This is the gist of the e-mail Dean Josefina Tuazon of the University of the Philippines College of Nursing, dated August 25 sent primarily to the president-elect of the Philippine Nurses Association of Southern California, Brenda Cohen. More than 50 other healthcare professionals here and in the Philippines were listed as secondary addresses of the letter.

A copy of the letter was provided Philippine News by the president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, New York-based May Mayor.

The head of the Philippines' premier nursing school apparently wrote the letter in order to rally her colleagues in the Philippines and in the United States into helping redeem the tainted image and reputation of Filipino nurses, as a result of the alleged nursing board exams leakage last June.

"Spread the word around that we need to do something in each of our own world," Tuazon said in her letter.

She continued: "For some of you involved directly or indirectly in the recruitment of Filipino nurses, please be selective and choose only graduates from reputable schools. Do not recruit new graduates."

Tuazon further explained that recruiting only the experienced nurses for overseas employment would also help stabilize the turnover rate of nurses in the Philippines and alleviate the brain-drain syndrome that has been increasingly affecting the nursing profession there.

On the quality of nursing education in the Philippines, Tuazon deplored the practice of many, if not most, nursing schools of increasing their enrollment beyond what their capacities and resources can handle. Thus, she said, these so-called diploma mills resort to hiring new and raw graduates as teachers, effectively removing the clinical experience requirement so essential to nursing instructorship.

"For Filipinos based abroad, we hope you will tell your relatives and friends in the Philippines who intend to take up nursing to enroll only in reputable schools," she urged. "And if you have connections to your alma mater, pressure them into doing what is right towards quality nursing education."

Along this line, Tuazon insisted that nursing schools ought to have a set of criteria for selecting and keeping students. While she appreciates that most nursing students eagerly look forward to working abroad, the least nursing schools could do is to conduct pre-admission screening and then work hard to make good nurses out of the students.

"Let's pressure schools into adopting a selection criteria," she said. "Not just anybody and certainly not everybody can be nurses. Nursing cannot and should not be merely used as a stepping stone to go abroad."

As investigation into the alleged test leak continued alongside government efforts to start fixing the breached licensure testing system, some "players" are shrewdly, if not inappropriately, positioning themselves to gain from the scandal. Tuazon specifically referred to how several review centers are jostling with one another in order to win over the lost customer base of Gapuz and Inress, two review institutions implicated in the scam.

The scramble seems a pitiful reminder of the gallant and almost successful bid put up by the Philippines for accreditation as a testing center of the U.S. National Commission on Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for nurses. The (U.S.) National Council of State Boards of Nursing last week shelved that application as a direct repercussion of the scandal.

Manila newspapers also reported last week that according to Dante Ang, chair of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, he has received information that the state of Arkansas will not hire nurses who took the June 2006 board exams.

In the meantime, PNAA's Mayor expressed her disappointment over the results of the controversial nursing board exams. Whether or not there was a leak, she noted, the passing rate of 42 percent (17,000 out of the 42,000 examinees) is still alarmingly low.

"It is an embarrassing percentage and tends to mirror the deteriorating quality of nursing education in the Philippines because of the proliferation of diploma mills," Mayor told Philippine News.

"Many schools do not even have hospital affiliations," she lamented, citing the case of an information technology school chain that now offers an undergraduate nursing program.

Both Tuazon and Mayor, as well as the institutions they represent, however, see a silver lining amid the scandal. "It had to take a scandal like this to call the attention of media and the public to the fact that there is something very wrong in the nursing profession today," Tuazon said in her letter.

The PNAA, on the other hand, has issued a position statement condemning the alleged test leakage.

Philippine News, California

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