Group seeks Saudi exemption from exams for RP nurses

By JC Bello Ruiz
The Philippine government should ask Saudi Arabia to exempt Filipino nurses from the requirement to take the “prometric” exam to work in the country, the Migrante-Middle East said Friday, noting that the oil-rich country is the one that needs the services of Filipino nurses.

Migrante said the new qualifying exam required by the Saudi government is “an additional burden to Filipino nurses going to the Mideast.”

“The implementation of this new Saudi labor policy should not only be delayed, but should not be implemented at all by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili had earlier asked Saudi Arabia to delay the implementation of the prometric exam, the equivalent to the licensure exam taken by nurses in the Philippines, to allow the government to prepare procedures for RP nurses planning to work in the Middle East countries to meet the new requirement.

“The POEA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) should demand from the Saudi government the non-implementation of the prometric exam as it is only an additional burden to our already low-paid OFW nurses hoping to land a job in Saudi. And the POEA/DOLE would be in a better position to negotiate its non-implementation as it is the Saudi government that needs our OFW nurses,” Monterona said.

“Even if it is to be shouldered by respective employers, the amount will eventually be passed on to the hired nurses by deducting the amount from their salary, like the US$25 Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership fee which should be paid by the employers, but being charged by OWWA to every departing OFW,” he added.

Monterona warned that the prometric exam would face “stiff” opposition from OFW nurses.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for OFW nurses, according to the POEA. Last year 7,955 nurses were deployed from 6,266 in 2007.

The prometric exam is now required by the Saudi Council for Health Specialties before one could work as a nurse in Saudi Arabia.

The exam may be taken in Saudi or in test venues in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the accredited testing center is Thomson Prometric, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.

The examination is scheduled Tuesday up to Friday, with a fee of $90.