Nurses pay hike pushed as record 8,000 PH graduates aim US job

Quezon City 4th District Rep. Marvin Rillo on Monday urged for the passage of House Bill No. 5276 bill, seeking to hike the basic pay of nurses working in government health institutions. 

Rillo, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Higher Technical Education, made the call after learning that a record 8,128 nursing graduates from the Philippines took the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the first time from January to June this year in hopes of landing a job in the United States. 

The NCLEX is administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. 

“The number represents an increase of 129 percent when compared to the 3,550 Filipino nursing graduates that took the US licensure examination, or the NCLEX, for the first time in the same six-month period in 2021, excluding repeaters,” Rillo said. 

“The data, released only last week, strongly indicate that a growing number of Filipino nurses are raring to practice their profession in America, mainly on account of record-high paychecks there,” he added. 

In the 12 months of 2021, a total of 9,788 nurses in the Philippines took the NCLEX for the first time.

Just last month, the Department of Health said public and private hospitals in the Philippines need of a total of 106,541 nurses to fill vacancies. 

“We really have to invest more aggressively to retain our nurses in public hospitals – to discourage them from leaving for higher-paying jobs abroad after practicing only for one or two years here at home,” Rillo said. 

Under HB 52746, the lowest base pay of nurses working in public health institutions would be raised by six notches to Salary Grade 21 prescribed under the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 – or a 75-percent bump from PHP36,619 to more than PHP63,000. 

Apart from government nurses, Rillo pointed out that private hospitals in the country also need to spend more money to keep their nurses, or “they are bound to lose more nurses to foreign employers.” 

“Even in America, we were told that a number of US states are also losing nurses to corporate agencies, deploying ‘travel nurses’ to other states facing (nursing) staff shortages,” Rillo said. 

Travel nurses are registered nurses who work in short-term roles at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Travel nurses help fill gaps in areas where there are nursing shortages, and as a result, the average travel nurse salary can be quite high. 

“Travel nurses in America are receiving offers of up to USD3,000 in weekly pay, or around PHP177,000,” Rillo said. 

The number of Filipino nursing graduates taking the NCLEX in the first six months of the year dwarfs those coming from other Asian countries. According to the latest numbers from USNCSBN, a total of 1,675 nurses educated in India also took the NCLEX for the first time, along with 629 nurses schooled in South Korea, in the same period. (By Jose Cielito Reganit, PNA)

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