Practical nursing not only for flunkers - Brion

Amid problems besetting the country’s nursing profession, Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo D. Brion on Wednesday said Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) is an alternative course to nursing students who prefer to take the shorter route in their career and those who cannot make it in nursing board exams.

This would give them an opportunity to seek employment abroad, especially in countries like the United States and Canada that recognize and license practical nurses.

LPN nurses perform simple medical tasks, mostly dealing with patient medication and care, under the direction of a “full nurse" or a physician.

“We will have to find out what we can do for those who will not make it in the licensure examination and those who want to make the shorter LPN route in their career choice," Brion said.

He said the idea came up when he met recently with Senator Edgardo Angara to discuss the employment situation in the country, including the plight of the country's nurses.

Brion wanted the various stakeholders to debate on the suggestion, hoping that the ideas that would arise from the discussions could be consolidated into a legislative proposal.

"This is a policy issue that we will look into together with the stakeholders, particularly the Professional Regulation Commission and the Commission on Higher Education, and even the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority," Brion said.

The labor official said that of the 78,000 who took the examination last June, probably only 40,000 may pass based on passing rates in previous exams.

Referring to those who do not want to go through the full nursing course but still want to serve in the medical field and those who flunked in exams, Brion said, “We should provide them an option they can handle."

We do not license practical nurses in the Philippines, but they are recognized and licensed in the United States and Canada, Brion said.

The labor official noted media’s help in airing the idea, saying that public awareness could spark a discussion and debate on the issue.

"Our nurses and their organizations, together with the academe should be heard in this debate," he added.

The Board of Nursing expects to come out with the June 2007 nursing licensure exam results possibly by mid-August 2007.