A LAWMAKER renewed his call to pass a bill increasing the minimum wage of nurses working in public health hospitals and clinics, citing the record high number of Filipino nurses that took the United States licensure examinations last year.  

In 2022, we had the highest number of Philippine-educated nurses taking the NCLEX (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) in 14 years, in terms of first-time takers,said Quezon City Rep. Marvin D. Rillo in a statement on Sunday, based on data from the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN).  

There were 18,617 Filipino nursing graduates who took the US nursing licensure exam last year, said Mr. Rillo, chair of the House committee on higher and technical education   

The Philippines was also the top country in the 2022 First-Time Internationally Educated Candidates, with India second (4,318) and Korea placing third (1,816), according to the NCSBN fact sheet.  

The number of Philippine nursing graduates taking the NCLEX for the first time is a reliable indicator as to how many of them are eagerly looking for employment in America,Mr. Rillo said in a statement on Sunday.  

Mr. Rillo filed House Bill No. 5276, which mandates that the minimum base pay of nurses working in public health institutions should not be lower than salary grade 21 prescribed under the Salary Standardization Law of 2019.  

Currently, the minimum base pay of nurses should not be lower than salary grade 15.  

In the bill, Mr. Rillo cited data from the Department of Labor and Employment, stating that an entry-level registered nurses receives an average salary of P8,000 ($158.54) to P13,500 ($267.54) per month. This is lower than the $77,600 median annual wage of registered nurses in the US, according to a 2022 report by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

Global health has evolved not only due to the emergence of new diseases but also because of the interconnected and interdependent world. To provide solution on the deplete on our skilled nurses, we must provide a competitive salary and benefit for them to enjoy and consider,Mr. Rillo said. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz