Nursing board topnotcher: I only wanted to pass

By Sophia Dedace
For 28-year-old nursing graduate Clarie Bontol, topping the board exams is a fantasy.
A text message from a friend late Sunday night, however, convinced the Iligan City native that fantasies can come true. The texter had informed her that she was the topnotcher in the November 2009 licensure examinations for nurses.

“At first I could not believe it. It was very unexpected because I just studied by myself and the test was very difficult. My only prayer was for me to pass,” she said.

Bontol studied Biology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, but had a change of heart somewhere along the way. “I realized that I no longer wanted to be a doctor and I did not like what I was doing,” she said.

She then enrolled at the Philippine Institute of Japanese Language in Culture in Sampaloc, Manila, where she graduated valedictorian in 2004. Her quest for knowledge, however, did not stop there.


A year later, inspired by a cousin’s success, she returned to her home province and took up nursing at the Iligan Medical Center College, Inc. She graduated March 2009. “I just wanted to follow my cousin’s footsteps. It was she who inspired me to be a nurse.”

Bontol, who got an 87.80 percent rating, will be one of the 37, 572 board passers who will take oath as registered nurses this March.

Asked whether she is planning to work abroad like many of her ilk, Bontol said she has yet to decide.
“It’s still something my family and I will still discuss. But as of now, I have no plans yet. Hindi ko pa alam kung gusto ko magtrabaho overseas o dito na lang muna sa Pilipinas (I haven’t figured out yet whether or not to work abroad),” she said.

From the provinces

Bontol was not the only one in the top 5 passers who came from provincial schools. Bryan Noel Asis (2nd) and Dickson Laude (3rd) were from the Lyceum of Batangas and St. Scholastica’s College of Health Sciences-Tacloban, Leyte, respectively.

Fourth placer Sarah Beth Bendoy graduated from the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities in Batangas. Sharing the spot with her was Cyrel Diolazo of Arellano University-Manila.

Of the three Nursing graduates who ranked fifth, two were from the provinces: Katrina Doromal of St. Paul University-Iloilo, and Rio Michelle Renomeron of San Pedro College-Davao City. The other fifth placer is Cliff Richard Bermudez from the Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila.

Two of the three best performing schools in 2009 were also in the province: St. Paul University-Iloilo registered a 100 percent passing mark; St. Louis University in Baguio with 99.54 percent; and Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila with 98.48.

In 2008, schools outside Metro Manila also performed well.
Nicolas Lapeña, chair of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), said the impressive performance of the provincial nursing schools was due to the efforts exerted by the commission and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

“Pinupukpok talaga ng PRC at ng CHED ang mga provincial nursing schools to improve their standards, na kung pwedeng i-match din nila yung sa Metro Manila,” Lapeña said. 
(We, together with CHED, really pushed these schools to perform better and, if possible, to match the performance of their counterparts in Metro Manila.)

A total of 94,462 nursing graduates took the November 2009 examinations, a six percent jump from the 88,649 who took the exams in 2008.

The passing rate for 2009, however, was the lowest, as only 39.73 percent (37,527 examinees) passed the test.

Lapeña declined to say if this is reflective of the proliferation of poorly-performing nursing schools despite the 2004 CHED moratorium against the opening of more nursing schools.


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