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The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) published a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) guide on its website to address the growing confusion among June 2006 nurses on the issue of retake as required by the CGFNS and the position of the American Nurses Association.
Listed below are the common questions of June 2006 nurses along with CGFNS' official response:
Does passage of the NCLEX or the CGFNS Exam make someone who passed only the June 2006 Exam eligible for a VisaScreen certificate?
No. In order to become eligible for a VisaScreen Certificate, CGFNS has required that a June 2006 passer must first re-take and pass, with a score of 75 percent or better, the “special voluntary examination” covering the subject matter of Tests 3 and 5. Passage of the NCLEX or the CGFNS Examination by any passer of the compromised June 2006 PRC examination will not substitute for the requirement that he or she take the “special voluntary examination” authorized by Executive Order 609 issued by the Philippine Government on March 12, 2007.

Does the CGFNS decision have an effect on the validity of the Philippine nursing licensure?
No. CGFNS recognizes the validity of the Philippine nursing license obtained by the June 2006 passers. The CGFNS decision to deny issuing a VisaScreen Certificate to the June 2006 passers of the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination relates only to their status under U.S. immigration law.
When must I re-take Tests 3 and 5 to be eligible for a VisaScreen Certificate?
June, 2006 Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination test passers must re-take Tests 3 and 5 as provided in Executive Order 609 stating that a “special voluntary examination” for this purpose will be given both in June and December, 2007. A June 2006 passer may take this special voluntary examination in either one of those months, at the examinee’s choice. Executive Order 609 does not authorize re-takes of Tests 3 and 5 after December 2007.

What score do I have to get in order to be eligible for VisaScreen Certificate?
You must obtain a passing score of 75 percent or better on each Test. An average score of 75 -- in which one score is above 75 and one below 75 -- will not be sufficient to qualify for VisaScreen certification.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has recommended that the June 2006 passers should re-take the entire licensure examination, even though CGFNS requires a re-take of only Tests 3 and 5. Which path should I follow?
To gain eligibility for VisaScreen certification, which is a pre-requisite to obtaining a U.S. occupational visa, you should meet the standard set by CGFNS, i.e., retaking Tests 3 and 5 before the end of 2007. ANA has clarified its position by stating that "ANA recognizes the CGFNS' position that successful retake of Tests #3 and #5 is an acceptable remedy to meet the needs of a VisaScreen Certificate.

If I take the re-take of Tests 3 and 5 in June 2007, and I fail to get a score of 75 in one or both tests, can I re-take one or both Tests in December 2007?
No. After you have re-taken Tests 3 and 5 once in a “special voluntary examination,” no further re-take is authorized by the Executive Order of the Philippine Government.

If I pass Tests 3 and 5 in 2007, what other things must I do to obtain a VisaScreen Certificate?
Detailed information about the requirements for a VisaScreen Certificate are available on the CGFNS website.
Source: CGFNS International

Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported Sunday that the welfare ministry is creating a new eased license category for filipino nurses and caregivers to facilitate entry of filipino healthcare workers to japanese healthcare facilities under a bilateral free-trade agreement between the two asian countries.
Under the agreement signed last September by then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Japan plans to accept 400 nurses and 600 caregivers in the first two years from fiscal 2007 starting April 1, 2007.
The new eased licensing system will pave the way for those who have not passed a national exam as they will be certified as a "practical" nursing-caregiver so long as they have completed related courses at colleges, universities or vocational schools.
The Japan Association of Certified Care Workers, however, said the measure would lead to a decline in the standard of care.
Related News:

PRC Issues Guidelines for Nursing Board Retake

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has released the guidelines for the implementation of the nursing licensure examination retake for June 2006 nurses. It outlined three (3) types of possible retake scenarios with special requirements for each.
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The first type of retakers are the 1,687 examinees ordered by the Court of Appeals to retake. They are required to submit their previous notice of admission document, Transcript of Records, and Birth Certificates. Filing and examination fees will be waived.
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The second type of retakers are those who will opt to voluntarily retake all five (5) sets of exam. This will, however, involve surrender of license (waiver). They will also have to pay a Php900.00 examination fee. Documents needed for submission include previous notice of admission , Transcript of Records, and Birth Certificates.
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The third type of retakers are those who will voluntarily retake tests 3 and 5 only for purposes of meeting VisaScreen requirements set forth by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). The guideline provides for a single retake opportunity either in June or December 2007 at the discretion of the examinee. Should the examinee fail to reach a passing grade of 75% in both tests, the examinee will have an option to retake the entire board exam on december 2007 with surrender of license and board rating (waiver). Documents required are Transcript of Records, Birth Certificates, Photocopies of PRC ID, and Certificate of Registration. Examinees may file from April 2 to May 11, 2007. Filing and examination fees will be waived.
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Examinees abroad or those from far-flung provinces can have their applications filed by a representative. However, Notice of Admission must be claimed personally by the examinee one week before the examination.
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Examination dates are set on June 10 (Sunday) and June 11 (Monday). Tests 3 and 5 are scheduled on the second day, June 11, 2007.
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DoLE: Free Review For Retakers

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Association of Deans of Philippine College of Nursing (ADCPN) on Saturday signed an agreement to give free special review classes for the June 2006 nurses who will opt to retake tests 3 and 5 of the compromised June 2006 Nurse Licensure Examintion to meet VisaScreen requirements set forth by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.
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Twenty-nine (29) nursing schools nationwide will be conducting review classes. Review fees will be subsidized by the government at Php 1,200 per reviewee.
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Eight (8) schools will serve as regional coordinators for the nationwide review.
NCR -University of the Philippines & University of Santo Tomas
Baguio City - St. Louis University
Cagayan Valley - St. Paul University Philippines
Iloilo - St. Paul University & Siliman University
Cagayan De Oro City - Xavier University
Davao City - San Pedro College
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The eighteen (18) other schools who will be hosting the review are:
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Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Saint Paul University-Manila, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center, Trinity College-Quezon City, Remedios T. Romualdez Memorial School in Makati Medical Center, Mariano Marcos State University-Batac, Ilocos Norte, and Saint Mary’s University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
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De La Salle University-Dasmarinas Health Science Campus, Southern Luzon Polytechnic College, Sacred Heart College of Lucena City, Adventist University of the Philippines, West Visayas State University, Saint Paul University-Dumaguete, Cebu Doctors University, Cebu Normal University, Velez College, Remedios T. Romualdez Medical Foundation, and University of the Philippines-Palo, Leyte.
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The review, which will be limited a maximum of 100 reviewees per class, will be held from April 16 to June 3.
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Reviewers may register for the review classes online at beginning March 21. Registration deadline is April 4, 2007.
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Things to Consider Before Signing a Contract

By Sylvia Smith
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Rule One - There is no perfect contract - all contracts will require some trade-offs - but you should always, always, always read and understand any contract before you sign.

Rule Two – If it sounds too good to be true – you can bet your bottom dollar that it is. If someone is offering too much money, grandiose benefits etc. ask yourself, “Why?” Is the facility located in a scary part of town or are the conditions so bad they can’t keep it staffed? Is there “fine print” in the contract that negates the promises? Look with a cautious eye. Hospitals, agencies and attorneys have to pay the bills. What’s the catch?

Rule Three - (This goes back to rule one) Don’t toss out a good offer/contract because it’s not “perfect.” Decide what is most important to you. Do you have family/friends in a certain state/city? If location is most important to you, to get it you will probably have to make accommodations in other things, for example – nursing home instead of a hospital, agency nursing instead of direct hire, lower wages, maybe even pay more of the expenses yourself. But if when you arrive you have the support of family and friends it may be well worth the trade-off.

If you are an experienced nurse and working in a hospital to build your skills is most important you, you may find the best thing for you is to take job at a larger hospital but in some smaller city not on the “popular” list. If salary is most important to you be sure to cross check on a “cost of living calculator” to be sure you are getting the bargain you think you are getting. Life would be rough on $25 an hr in California but in many other areas you can easily buy a home and live just fine on it. Again, decide what’s most important to you and then be willing to be flexible in other areas.

Rule Four - Don’t ever, ever, ever sign a contract planning from the start that you’ll just get out of it on arrival. It hurts the reputation of all International nurses when this happens, it’s dishonest and may result in immigration problems that will haunt a nurse for years to come. Instead, hold out for a contract you can live with (see Rule Three again) and then make it work when you arrive. Any contract is for a limited time – usually 2-3 years. Once it’s done you’ve got a green card and can go anywhere you want. You can stick it out. 2 to 3 years is a small price to pay for a “golden ticket”. NOTE: Yes, there are times where nurses are taken advantage off, promises are broken – and even laws are broken. In these cases of course a nurse should seek help to get out – but they are the rare exception and more often than not, related to not following Rule Two.

Other things to consider/ask.

Where will you be working? - What state/city? At full hospital? At a nursing home? One set location or will you be moved about? NOTE: If you do not have hospital experience you will limit your options in this area and may not be able to get a hospital position. I know US schooled new grads who are having a hard time finding hospital positions – hospitals want experienced nurses, always have, always will (see Rule Two if someone is offering inexperienced nurses hospital positions – I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it's very unlikely that there is not a “catch” of some kind). However, if you have experience – You don’t have to settle for anything less than a full hospital position - there are plenty of them out there – but you may have to be flexible on what state you go to.

Who pays for what? – What expenses is the nurse responsible for? Are some items paid up front by the agency/hospital/attorney but the nurse needs to pay them back later? Are there expenses the nurse pays up front but that can be later reimbursed? Is there any kind of sign-on/arrival bonus? What about airfare and initial housing? NOTE: No one will pay for everything for you – see Rule Two. Find a balance you can live with. If you don’t have money for up front expenses you may need to take a contract where money is advanced that you have to pay back. (though I personally think these are terrible) If you get a sign–on bonus and a good salary who cares if they don’t provide initial housing or some other item another nurse is bragging about?

The most important thing is that you understand the financial side of the contract and it’s an arrangement you can live with.

Buy-Outs” - Almost every contract now has a buy-out written in and it will be high – generally a lot more than the actual “visible” cash put out on the nurse. This is because to bring a nurse to the US it costs a lot more than that actual fees paid out. Time is the biggest cost – time searching out applicants, time vetting files, time interviewing, time gathering and sorting docs for immigration, time awaiting arrival, time for orientation. And after investing 12, 18, 24 months or even more waiting for a nurse to arrive if the nurse walks…it’s extremely expensive to the agency/facility. The fact of the matter is they don’t want your money from a buy-out – they want you. Don’t be afraid to sign a contract just because it has a high buy-out. If you have checked the sponsor out, followed the rules above and feel good with the rest of the contract, don’t worry about it.

NOTE: You can always ask if they will let you contact a nurse that they have already placed at the facility for the inside scoop as to what it’s like. Then you can feel better that you will be fine and not need to buy-out anyway.

This should give you a good start as you look at contract/job offers!

About the Author. Sylvia Smith is from Colorado, USA. She has been working with international nurses for more than 5 years. Having lived a few years in several countries, she helps nurses reach their dreams of coming to the US. Currently, she is doing contract work specifically with the H-1C work visa for nurses in the east coast.

Hutchison Amendment Shot Down

The Hammond Law Group (HLG) today announced that S.4 where the recapture provision was attached, passed but without the Hutchison amendment recapturing 90,000 unused visa numbers for nurses and physical therapists.

A new bill with the same racapture amendment is expected by easter according to HLG.

Related News:
Recapture Bill Formally Introduced

DoLE: "We are sticking it out with Tests 3 and 5"

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion today announced that the Department of Labor will proceed with the optional partial retake inspite of a resolution by the American Nurses Association (ANA)calling for a full retake of the compromised June 2006 Nurse Licensure Examination.
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“I suspect that the American Nurses Association would have a lot of influence on hiring but before the hiring, let us first solve our problem of getting our June 2006 nurses the CGFNS VisaScreen certificate." Brion added.
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However, the labor department clarified that the ANA recommendation is still under study and will be discussed by DoLE, PRC, and nursing stake holders.
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Brion earlier said that they are seeking representation with the ANA with the help of CGFNS officials.
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Related News:
ANA Bats for Full Retake
Labor Department Studying ANA's Recommendation

Recapture Bill Formally Introduced

Texas Senator Kaye Hutchison has formally introduced amendment 364 (known as Schedule A recapture) to the 9/11 bill (Senate Bill #4) recapturing 90,000 visas for Schedule A nurses and physical therapists. The amendment also provides for a 3o-day approval period for I-140 petitions.
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The Hammond Law Group (HLG) says that if the Hutchison amendment passes, Schedule A retrogression could be over.
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However, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin wants the Hutchison amendment toned down. Durbin wants the following provision included in the Hutchison amendment:
  • A $1,500 "training fee" attached to each nursing case
  • Healthcare workers, including MDs, who travel overseas for extended periods of time do not lose their US Permanent Residency if they are working in select (unnamed) countries
  • Healthcare workers, including MDs, are inelgible for US Permanent Residency if they have a "financial obligation" to their home country
Meanwhile, HLG speculates that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill may be introduced soon based on a report by The Christian Science Monitor.
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In a related development, President Bush said he expects to sign the CIR into law by August in a statement made during his tour of Latin America over the week.
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Related News:
Bush says he wants immigration deal (Yahoo! News)
Capitol Hill closes in on immigration reform (CS Monitor)

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said today that his department is studying the recommendation of the American Nurses Association (ANA) for a full retake of compromised June 2006 Nurse Licensure Examination.

Brion added, “We might ask for a representation with them and seek the help of the CGFNS with whom we’ve already had long discussions.”

Meanwhile, President Arroyo has signed the Executive Order for the optional partial retake of the board exams.

A meeting between Brion and the deans of top nursing schools is scheduled on March 17 to discuss review classes for those who will opt to retake.

The application period for the review is from March 19 to April 4, while the review classes will be from April 16 to June 3. The retake is tentatively scheduled on June 11 and 12, 2007.

ANA Bats for Full Retake

The American Nurses Association (ANA) released an announcement on its website urging June 2006 nurses to submit for a full retake of the compromised June 2006 Nurse Licensure Examination.

The press release dated March 2, 2007 said that a retake was needed to protect public health and safety.

In a separate letter to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Board of Nursing dated February 28, 2007, ANA President Rebecca M. Patton informed the PRC that ANA has passed a resolution requiring June 2006 nurses to retake a new and different licensure test and obtain a passing score to be considered for entrance into the United States to practice nursing.
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Meanwhile, Senatorial candidate Francis Escudero hit the government for mishandling the nursing controversy saying that the government’s indecision on the controversy behind the June 2006 nursing licensure examinations has prolonged the agony of the 17,000 passers.
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It's Over: CGFNS Reaffirms Decision

The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS International) on tuesday (Manila time) reaffirmed its decision to deny June 2006 nurses VisaScreen Certificate eligibility sans a partial retake of the compromised June 2006 Nurse Licensure Examination.

The announcement came after CGFNS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Barbara Nichols, CGFNS Board of Trustees President Dr. Lucille Joel and counsel to CGFNS John Ratigan met with the Philippine appeal delegation led by Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella on monday.

In an announcement on its website, CGFNS stressed that decision was based on U.S. law, and what U.S. law required of CGFNS in the circumstances of the June 2006 examination. The key question was not what Philippine authorities did, but what U. S. authorities would have done in similar circumstances.
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Read the full announcement of CGFNS here.

CGFNS Agrees to Meet with RP Appeal Group

A five-man nursing panel is set to leave for Philadelphia tomorrow morning to meet with Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) officials on Monday to appeal the February 14 decision of the CGFNS to deny June 2006 nursing board passers VisaScreen certificates.
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The appeal group is composed of Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) chair Leonor Rosero, Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella, former Board of Nursing chair Eufemia Octaviano, Fatima University Dean Remigia Nathanielz, and Alliance of New Nurses president Renato Aquino.

Bacolod City representative Monico Puentevella is optimistic. “So many things happened between September when CGFNS was here and today, so we are hoping we can convince them to reconsider the decision," Puentevella said.

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