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Manila NCLEX hinges on how mess is settled

Manila NCLEX hinges on how mess is settled

By Alfredo G. Rosario, Opinion Page Editor

“It is a matter of time.”

This was the reply of Ms. Faith Fields, president of the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing, when interviewed by The Manila Times on the chances of a National Council Licensure Examination test center being established in Manila.

The sound bite has a positive tone, but favorable action, if any, by the NCSBN on the Philippine government’s request for the NCLEX test to be given regularly here is conditioned on how we resolve “the mess” arising from the leakage of test questions in the June 2006 licensure examination for nurses.

Ms. Fields came to Manila a few days ago at the head of an NCSBN delegation to speak before the Philippine Nurses Association and meet with officials of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas led by Secretary Dante Ang and other concerned agencies.

She called on President Arroyo whom she described as a “wonderful advocate for nursing.”

With her party were Ruth Ann Terry, NCSBN treasurer; Dr. Casey Marks, associate executive director; and Fraser Cargill, director for Asia Pacific and representative of Pearson VUE; the company contracted by the NCSBN to conduct the NCLEX.

Ms. Fields said the decision on a testing site in the Philippines will be made by the NCSBN. Its primary guideline in considering the Philippine request is the competence of Filipino nurses applying to work in the US and the assurance that any licensure test irregularity, like last June’s leakage, does not happen again in the future.

The top NCSBN official was more unequivocal in an earlier speech before the Philippine Nurses Association at the Manila Hotel where she said she could not give a forthright answer to the question of an NCLEX testing site being set up in the Philippines.

Competence is the issue

“What so many have told me that you really want to hear is whether we will place a testing center here in the Philippines in the future. I cannot answer that question for you here today as it is not my decision to make. What we know for sure about the future is that it hasn’t happened yet,” Ms. Fields said.

She added: “So in relation to a future Philippine NCLEX testing center what I can tell you is that we will use what God gave us the most of, twice as many eyes and ears as we have in mouths, so that we must listen and observe much more than we speak in order to make a final decision in that regard.”

It was in her meetings with Dr. Ang and the President that Ms. Fields more clearly said about the “to retake or not to retake” the leakage-tainted June NLE that “competence, not justice, is the issue.”

This is with reference to the argument of the nonretake faction that it would be unjust to examinees who did not benefit from the leakage and passed to be made to take the NLE again. The problem with that argument is that it will take a long time to determine who really benefited or did not. Also, a retake will more dramatically tell the world of nurse-employers here and abroad that examinees of the June 2006 batch who passed the retake exams have passed without a cloud of doubt about their competence and integrity.

The NCSBN is watching closely how the Philippine authorities have been dealing with the people and agencies responsible for the nursing exam leakage to ensure the integrity of future nursing tests.

Have the guilty parties been pinpointed and have appropriate penalties been meted out to them? Have proper safeguards been taken to prevent a repeat of the test anomaly? The NCSBN want to get answers to these questions.

Ms. Fields stressed that test regulators have a “shared responsibility” to ensure that the public is protected from incompetent nurses. At the same time, she said that nurses have a shared responsibility to maintain their competence through their knowledge, skills and ability to practice safely.

‘World is watching’

“The National Council has a task force working diligently to address the continued competence issue and make recommendations to the Board and our membership on how to assess that continued competence,” she said.

She said the world has been watching how the government is handling the challenge arising from the breach in the June 2006 nursing exam. In this regard, she said the NCSBN is willing to share “what we have found as best practices in the test development process.”

Ms. Fields has a good word in general for Filipino nurses working in the US, saying they have quality in their nursing education programs and a vision for the future. Filipino nurses represent 83 percent of foreign nurses working in US hospitals, leading all countries in global nurses migration.

But she expressed concern particularly over the quality of nurses in the June 2006 batch who took part in the leakage-tainted licensure test.

In the US, Ms. Fields said, test leakages are almost nil, but they do happen. However, punitive action is swiftly taken against the guilty parties. She said review centers in the US are run by nurses and anyone involved in a breached exam loses her license.

She was not in favor of abolishing all nursing review centers as a result of the test anomaly last June but expressed hope those involved should get the proper sanctions. “Review centers for any profession are necessary,” she said.

The request for an NCLEX testing center in Manila has been formally sought by the government through the creation of an inter-agency presidential task force headed by Secretary Ang, CFO chairman.

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I guess Filipinos have to learn how to identify which review centers are credible or not.

I would personally recommend Professor Rachell Allen Review Programs.

I agree sa iyo Ryan...Rachell ALlen Reviewers is one of the finest review centers in the United States.

Let's support naman the power of a woman. I have been hearing a lot of her after the leak scandal and I heard she has her office na sa Philippines sa may Ortigas Center.
Here's the website:

80% of the nurses working in the U.S.A. are filipinos, yet until now we dont have a NCLEX testing center here, cant we get it, they dont trust our system here..and now the head of the NCLEX team is already telling us what to do so that they will put up a testing center here, yet what we did is the opposite....well...cheer to a president who does not have a backbone, and is only after her popularity..

just curious, where did that 80% came from?

manila is one of the proposed areas for nclex... pero according to the grapevine officials were eyeing more favorably cebu and davao...

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