NCLEX | I heard the news today – oh, boy!

I REMEMBER a Tagalog saying I learned from my dear Inang, about truth in reporting:

“Anya ang balita’y bihirang magtapat, magkatotoo man, marami ang dagdag.”

“’Tis said that news is seldom fully disclosed, and usually embellished even if true.”

Because jobs available at home cannot keep up with the demand, news of “easy” and “plentiful” overseas job opportunities are always attention grabbers, which include the eyes of the unscrupulous opportunists.

On July 19, 2015 a newspaper article bannered “More jobs await Pinoys in Canada.

The opening salvo says that the “government of Canada is adopting new migration rules that could produce more jobs for Filipino professionals, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Friday.”

The next paragraph refers to a provincial, not the federal government.

“DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison announced that the province of Saskatchewan adopted a new selection system (-the so-called Express Entry) to address the province’s manpower shortage.”

Truth: Yes, there is a Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). Yes, the government of Canada has initiated the Express Entry Selection system and still is accepting applications from qualified skilled workers worldwide.

While SINP has its own Express Entry Sub-Category – the “International Skilled Worker Occupation in Demand,” – this sub-category had been reached for 2015. No more applications are being accepted for this sub-category.

How to Qualify for Express Entry.

In both the Federal and Provincial levels, an applicant must provide evidence of English proficiency usually the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). For skilled workers seeking to become provincial nominees, the minimum score is Listening – 4.5; Reading – 3.5; Writing – 4 and Speaking – 4.

For the Federal Express Entry, skilled workers and those in various occupations, the viable scores should be 6.5 for reading, writing and speaking and 7.5 in listening. An applicant who gets a score of 8.0 in the three components and 9 in listening gets to have 50 bonus points.

The maximum number of points that a Federal Express Entry applicant may get is 1,200. To be invited to apply for residency, however, a minimum threshold is set for every draw. Without a job offer or provincial nomination, most Filipinos will not qualify.

Simplifying the news may make for good copy but the wide swath of misinterpretation that arises becomes fuel for the illegal recruitment fire.

Here come’s another headline, this time attributed to an honorable legislator.

“Nurses taking NCLEX up 37 percent, says lawmaker”

Cebu Representative Gerald Anthony Gullas, Jr., the vice chairperson of the committee on higher and technical education at the House of Representatives was quoted to have claimed that “the number of Philippine-educated nurses who took the US National Licensure Examination for the first time in the first quarter of the year increased by 37 percent, or from 860 last year to 1,183,” not necessarily because they are intending to work in the US, but these RNs “just want to pass the NCLEX and add it to their credentials when they apply for jobs in other foreign labor markets.”

Gullas was quoted as referring to “the United Kingdom and Ireland, which seek some 2,800 nurses every year.”

NCLEX is not the exam required for nurses intending to practice their profession in these two countries. Rather, an RN from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must complete registration with the Overseas Nursing Programme of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK.

Filipino nurses must meet the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) : completing the registration, mainly having a current, unencumbered RN license, minimum five-year paid work experience, English proficiency and full educational assessment – not the NCLEX.

The good news – and a factual one, meanwhile – is that Canada now requires the NCLEX for foreign educated nurses instead of the previous Canadian Registered Nursing Exam (CRNE) starting January of 2015.

That should increase the number of Filipino Nightingales taking the NCLEX.

R. A. Gapuz Review Center, the most popular NCLEX review firm in the country has started review classes in Winnipeg, Manitoba and expects to expand the review classes to Filipino nurses and other nationalities in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Since the NCLEX in Canada started, the Philippines has topped the other test takers (for Canada and the US): 1,183 for the January to March period with India a distant second at 180, Puerto Rico 107, South Korea 95 and Canada 79.

For April to June, 2015, Filipino nurses still held the largest group of NCLEX test takers with 1,323, India again a poor second at 215; Puerto Rico, 129; South Korea, 100 and Jamaica 93.

Passing the NCLEX may be the culmination of a Filipino RN’s quest to be eligible for a work or immigrant visa to the U.S. or Canada, but the eligibility process is just a prelude to the crucial and expensive journey to practice the profession.

In the U.S. an NCLEX passer must still comply with the requirements of the State of intended employment or residency, and without a Social Security Number, a Filipino RN will find it next to impossible to apply and complete the licensure process.

While the NCLEX is recognized and now required In Canada, each province has its own regulatory authority and the registration process for each province cannot be complied with or completed outside Canada.

And before a foreign RN may take the NCLEX, the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) must first assess his or her level of competency. Most internationally educated nurses are required to take a Substantially Equivalent Competency stage that requires the applicant RN to apply for a visa to complete the five-day SEC assessment in Canada.

For U.S.-bound RNs, passing the NCLEX simply renders them eligible for sponsorship on working visas (H-1B) or immigrant visa under the 3rd Employment-based category (EB3).

The problem is, a willing and able employer may only file an H-1B petition on April 1 or each year. And there is a 65,000 quota worldwide. This quota is filled up in a few days via lottery system. For the EB3, the waiting period is anywhere from 3 to 5 years.

The news may have been simplified for easier reading, but in most cases, the truth remains in the silent background.

As judges say dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh but it is (the truth, and it is) the law.

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