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Daza: Remove ‘barriers’ by reviewing board exams

June 20, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 231 views

Amid shortage of medical professionals

A LAWMAKER on Tuesday underscored the need to remove barriers in employment and review licensure exams as the country deals with a shortage of medical professionals, especially nurses.

“It’s indeed time that we review barriers in employment, and one of those is the difficulty in passing board exams,” Northern Samar 1st District Representative Paul R. Daza said.

As can be remembered, Daza delivered a speech at the House Plenary in March, where he highlighted the perennially low passing rate in licensure examinations. For example, from 2017 to 2022, in 36 professions, the passing rate is only 52.58% – this is half the number of examinees.

“Ibig sabihin po, kalahati po ng ating mga examinees sa maraming propesyon ay bumabagsak. What our newly-appointed DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said, is correct. The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) needs to ‘relax’ the rules. However, the solutions must be long-term rather than stop-gap measures,” Daza said.

The passing rates in many professions are indeed “low” in the same period.

In the teaching profession, the average passing rate is 31.56% for elementary education, while the passing rate is 41.25% for high school. For criminologists, the rate is 34.84%, while for certified public accountants (CPAs), the passing rate is 24.36%. For fisheries technologies, the passing rate is 33.18% only.

“The Philippines is an archipelagic nation with [an] oceanic area larger than its land area, but only 1/3 of its aspirants are passing the licensure exam. Another alarming trend is the passing rate for agriculturists. It is 36.92% only! Paano na po ang ating goal toward food security?” Daza asked.

The number of farmers has been decreasing over the years, he said.

The total number of persons employed in agriculture declined to 9.7 million in 2019, down by 3% from ten million in 2018 (PSA).

Comparing this with a five-year reference period, it is a decrease of 14%, with 11.3 million people working in the sector in 2015.

“We have been discussing this matter with PRC and I’m happy that they are very receptive. There are solutions – aside from rationalizing the passing rates – such as a ‘modular’ approach where examiners who failed the board exams but passed in certain subjects need no longer re-take the whole exam,” Daza recommended.

In the US, the Medical Licensing Examination is divided into three examinations, and examinees can complete them within seven years (in some states). Some states allow additional three years for those completing their PhDs.

In Australia, there is a system called “voluntary certification (or self-regulation).” Under this certification, a person may be registered to practice his profession even without occupational licensing. Instead, members of his profession voluntarily establish an association and agree to abide by the rules and standards of the association.

“It’s time to break all barriers. We already have the law on free tertiary education. It’s still problematic in certain aspects, but it’s a good start. What we need to work on as well [as] ensuring that our graduates will not join the unemployed after graduation,” Daza stressed.