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Nurses wake at dawn to take oath, move on

Nurses wake at dawn to take oath, move on

By Leila Salaverria
Last updated 02:56am (Mla time) 10/28/2006

Published on page A1 of the October 28, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

LIZA Rastrollo, a 48-year-old mother, rose up well before dawn, left her Laguna home at 4:30 a.m. and arrived at the offices of the Professional Regulation Commission in Manila hours before the gates opened. She just wanted to make sure there would be no more hitch in her taking the Florence Nightingale pledge.

Four months of anxiety and recriminations ended yesterday for Rastrollo and the thousands of other passers of the scandal-smeared nursing board examination.

Cheering, clapping and hugging each other, they finally took their oaths to become full-fledged members of the nursing profession.

The cheering inside the PRC auditorium hadn’t died when Dante Ang, head of the Presidential Commission on Filipino Overseas Workers, injected a sour note.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Ang said that in his recent meetings with officials of the United States National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), they told him that if a similar leakage had happened in the United States as what occurred during the nursing licensure examination here in June, they would have ordered a retake of the whole exam.

In fact, Ang said NCSBN president Faith Fields had told him that a nursing board exam in one US state was also wracked by a leakage scandal and the NCSBN ordered a retake of the whole exam to solve the problem.

The NCSBN administers the US National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Passing the NCLEX would qualify a Filipino nurse for jobs in US hospitals and health centers.

Around 80 percent of NCLEX examinees come from the Philippines.

Ang’s remarks may well have sounded irrelevant to Rastrollo and to Gringo San Diego, 20, an accountant’s son and the topnotcher of the controversial June tests.

“I’m very, very happy because now we can move on,” said San Diego, who was among the 4,000 new nurses who took their oaths in batches at the PRC compound yesterday.

“Our plans were disrupted during our four months of waiting. At least, now we can make them happen,” he said.

End of agony

San Diego dreams of someday working in a US hospital.

The young Pampango said he would begin reviewing for the NCLEX but that before going abroad, he wanted to work for at least a year in a Philippine hospital.

“We are all very happy that finally their agony is over,” said school dean Antonio Lim, who attended the oath-taking of 85 new nurses in Tacloban City.

First batch

Yesterday’s first batch of 200 oath-takers at the PRC office in Manila swore their allegiance to the nursing profession and its principles at the PRC auditorium at 8:30 a.m. The 30-minute ceremony included a prayer and a message from the Board of Nursing chair.

The integrity of the June exam came under a cloud after disclosures that questions to Tests III and V had been leaked to reviewees in Baguio and Manila.

This led to the stopping twice of the oath-taking of the 17,821 who were initially announced to have passed, and to changes in the list of passers.

Integrity of the exam

The Court of Appeals first stopped the oath-taking following a petition filed by some nursing college professors and graduates, who questioned the PRC’s decision to recompute the scores in a bid to nullify the effects of the leakage.

The petitioners said they wanted to preserve the exams’ integrity and supported a retake, but the PRC maintained that a retake was unnecessary.

The scandal also split the ranks of the passers.

On Oct. 13, the appellate court invalidated the PRC’s recomputation of grades and ordered the retake of Tests III and V of the exam by the 1,687 graduates who had been added to the list of passers after the recomputation.

Nationwide uproar

The court also ordered the reinstatement to the list of passers of 1,186 graduates whose names were removed from the list following the recomputation.

The scandal kicked off a nationwide uproar and prompted calls for Malacañang to step in. It later designated Labor Secretary Arturo Brion to handle the bomb.

On Wednesday, after a conciliation meeting attended by opposing parties, the CA said there was no legal impediment to the oath-taking.

Cheers in the auditorium

Many, like Rastrollo, came to the PRC offices in Manila hours before they opened.

By 7:30 a.m., the line of people in white nurses’ uniforms that had formed outside the PRC’s gates along Paredes Street in Sampaloc had snaked for several hundred feet, reaching all the way to España.

The oath-taking, administered by the BON, was done in batches and on a first-come, first-served basis because the auditorium could only hold about 200 to 300 people.

When the first batch of oath-takers was asked to stand up prior to reading their oaths, many of them gave howls of joy.

Challenge to new nurses

Cheers and clapping erupted after they completed their oaths. Some hugged each other while others shook hands.

“At last,” said Rastrollo, a mother of two nursing students and who used to be a housewife before she decided to take up nursing. She arrived at the PRC at 5:45 a.m.

Calling on the passers to reflect on the doubts that had been cast on their competence, BON chair Eufemia Octaviano told the first batch of oath-takers:

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