Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Pinoy nurses heading to Japan for licensure exam

Despite a devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan this month and the ensuing nuclear accident, a third batch of over 80 Filipino nurses are scheduled to go there on May 30 for a language training in preparation for that country’s tough licensure examinations.

In a press briefing, Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura said a total of 82 Filipinos will leave for Japan to undergo intensive Japanese language training there, after a two-month preparatory language course in Manila to be conducted by Japanese instructors.

“Although I have no doubts that you will be able to fulfill your duties and responsibilities as healthcare professionals in Japan, I am also aware that one of the most difficult obstacles for passing the Japanese nursing licensure examinations is the language barrier," Katsura said at the formal launch of the training course.

This is the first time that Japan is implementing a preparatory language course prior to the applicants’ departure for Japan. Only two of the 139 Filipino nurses in previous batches passed that country’s licensure exam.

Apart from the preparatory course, Japan has also revised its licensure exam for foreign nurses and caregivers to boost the passing rate of health workers. (See: Japan cuts Filipino nurses some slack)

The revisions include the use of English words for medical terms originally in Japanese, like diabetes, cataract and pulmonary tuberculosis.

Since 2009, the Philippines has sent a total of 139 nurses and 299 caregivers to train in Japan through the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed in 2006. 

Various groups had earlier questioned JPEPA’s constitutionality before the Supreme Court, saying the treaty violates constitutional provision on trade, natural resources, labor, education, mass media legislation, public utilities and foreign policy. (See: Groups question Jpepa constitutionality at SC)

The Japanese Embassy said it has been taking steps to help Filipino nurses maximizeemployment opportunities for Filipino nurses under the treaty.

“This demonstrates the perseverance and dedication of both countries to take initiatives in improving the standing of Filipino candidate nurses in particular, especially in successfully integrating them, through language," Katsura explained.

Nurses who fail Japan’s licensure tests in Japan can only re-take the exam within the period they are allowed to stay in Japan.

If they still fail the examination, the nurses would have to return to the Philippines to apply again for training.

Apart from the six months of paid language training, Filipino nurses and caregivers are employed in Japanese hospitals and care-giving facilities for three years and four years, respectively, to familiarize themselves with the country’s healthcare system.

During that time, nurses undergoing work-training receive an average monthly salary of 130,000 yen to 220,000 yen (about P68,000 to P115,000) For caregivers, the monthly salary ranges from 125,000 yen to 185,000 yen (about P65,000 to P96,000).—With Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMA News

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