PRC ordered to hear case vs review center official in nursing licensure exam mess

The Court of Appeals has ordered the conduct of a hearing against the head of the review center involved in the alleged rigging of the 2006 nursing licensure examinations.

George Cordero, president and owner of Inress Review Center, is facing a string of charges for allegedly leaking several questions in the June 2006 nursing exams.

In a 16-page decision, the CA’s Special 12th Division denied Cordero’s petition seeking to stop the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) from hearing the administrative complaint against him for lack of a verified complaint and a complainant. 

The CA said PRC’s Board of Nursing acted well within its jurisdiction and did not abuse its discretion when it proceeded with the hearing of the administrative complaint filed by chairperson Carmencita Abaquin. 

“In the administrative case, what are involved are the irregularities in the licensure examinations which marred the integrity of the Board and the examinations it administered and from the aforementioned provisions, the Board not only has adjudicatory powers but regulatory and investigatory powers as well for the public interest. Undoubtedly, the Board as the aggrieved party and acting in behalf of the public should be the proper complainant,” the Court said. 

Cordero was charged for violation of Section 15 of Republic Act 8981 (Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Act) and the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

The CA also junked Cordero’s claim that there must be a complainant first aside from the BoN before the Board could proceed with the hearing, saying the provision in the PRC rules “does not negate the right of the Board by itself to initiate the administrative case, after a prima facie finding, by filing a formal charge and in effect, be the complainant.” 

It added that in administrative proceedings, the technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied. - via GMANews.TV

Half-cocked foreign health worker scheme has a long way to go

Japan is wavering over its acceptance of foreign nurses and care workers. Filipino nurses and care workers have come to Japan in accordance with the Japan-Philippines economic partnership agreement (EPA), but their numbers are far below that initially planned. This is due to the difficulties in obtaining licenses in Japan, and medical and care facilities' reluctance to accept foreign workers as the government has implemented measures to encourage them to accept those who have lost their jobs amid the global recession.

The Philippines is the second country to send trainee nurses and care workers to Japan under a bilateral EPA, following Indonesia. Japan plans to accept up to 1,000 Filipino nurses and care workers as trainees over a two-year period, almost equal to those from Indonesia. The workers are supposed to work at medical and care facilities as trainees after learning Japanese and undergoing introductory courses for six months.

Nurses are allowed to undergo on-the-job training for up to three years, while nursing care workers are permitted to do so for the maximum of four years. If they take state examinations and obtain Japanese licenses, they will be allowed to continue to work in Japan. Those who fail will be ordered to go home.

The number of applicants far outstripped the number of positions available, but the number of those who actually made it to Japan was far smaller than it should have been, due to various problems.

Firstly, it is difficult for foreign workers to obtain licenses in Japan, as they are required to take state examinations in Japanese. The pass rate of state examinations for care worker licenses is around 50 percent even among Japanese applicants, and foreign applicants must learn enough Japanese to sufficiently understand the contents of the examinations.

Secondly, institutions that accept these trainees are required to bear certain financial burdens. The Japanese government foots trainees' travel expenses and costs of undergoing Japanese-language training, but medical and care facilities must pay for subsequent on-the-job training and wages. Bosses are reluctant to accept foreign trainees for fears they will get no return on their investment if they fail the exams.

But the biggest problem is that the government has not yet clarified basic policy on accepting foreign workers. The government maintains that its acceptance of Filipino nurses and care workers is part of the bilateral economic exchange, and not intended to make up for workforce shortages. It has failed to clarify the direction of the bilateral economic exchange in the future, which has discouraged the operators of medical and nursing institutions from accepting foreign workers.

The government estimates that Japan must double the number of care workers by 2025 as the population ages. To that end, Japan must increase the number of care workers by 70,000 to 80,000 each year, but achieving this goal appears unlikely. The time has come when Japan must determine how many foreign workers it should accept and how it should accept them, but discussions on the issue have not even started.

A haphazard approach will be deadlocked in the end. The government is urged to work out basic policy on the acceptance of foreign nurses and care workers and deal with challenges, such as hurdles for accepting them that have already surfaced.

Nurses can continue emigrating to New Zealand, process made simpler

The New Zealand Nursing Council has told Filipino authorities that the option for emigrating to New Zealand through the skilled stream for nurses will remain open, particularly for Filipinos.

While rumours had started that nurses emigrating to New Zealand from the Philippines did not quite meet the standard of nurses in New Zealand, the New Zealand Nursing Council chief executive has said these ideas are unfounded and the Filipino nurses will continue to comprise a substantial part of the nursing staff in the country.  

According to the Manila Bulletin, about 200 nurses are registered every year from Filipinos emigrating to New Zealand. 

The Nursing Council has also reassured the Filipino authorities that the success rate of Filipino nurses in completing their assessment programme and meeting the standards of the New Zealand nursing industry was impressive. 

Further, the slowdown of the global economy and tightening of the New Zealand immigration system will not affect the numbers of nurses emigrating to New Zealand from any other country, and that the Nursing Council would make it easier for qualified nurses to emigrate to New Zealand under the skilled migration programme. 

Firstly, the Nursing Council website will aim to get direct applications from foreign nurses (rather than through recruitment agencies) by providing complete information on their website on how to find work as a nurse in New Zealand.  

They have also ensured that the English language requirements for foreign nurses have been made simpler to obtain an IELTS score of 7 (highest band), by staggering the completion of each stage and giving applicants the option of completing their IELTS in their home country. 

Emigrating to New Zealand as a nurse is an attractive option for many foreign workers seeking employment, as the job opportunities in the health sector are plentiful and the relaxed, outdoor, safe and fulfilling lifestyle in New Zealand are factors that many people aspire to.  

Fortunately, emigrating to New Zealand as a nurse can gain permanent residence for applicants and can eventually lead to naturalisation, allowing foreign workers the same rights as New Zealand citizens. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to New Zealand.