CIDS Press Release 2018-001

Wide Disparity in PH Nursing Licensure Exams’ Passing Rates Observed – UP CIDS Study

In the Philippines, the nursing education system is plagued by a large number of underperforming nursing programs with a wide disparity in passing rates across schools.  This is according to a Policy Brief on nurse education program performance released by the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative Development Studies.

The overall performance of the entire nursing education system in the country is crucial for local health service provision. In 2017, Department of Health (DOH) data reveal a shortage of health workers (doctors, midwives, etc.), most notably severe among nurses at around 270,000, in the country.  This is amidst having a large pool of unemployed or underemployed licensed nurses who are aspiring to work abroad.

In the policy brief, Senior Research Fellow of UP CIDS Dr. Geoffrey Ducanes and Higher Education Research and Policy Reform Program Convenor Dr. Clarissa David showed that, on average, the schools that are more likely to perform poorly in the licensure exam were those characterized by “a high student-to-faculty ratio, are located in Mindanao, are private, small, and were established in the 1980s. “

According to the brief, a one-unit increase in the student-faculty ratio is associated with a 0.2 percentage point decline in a school’s passing rate, controlling for other variables. Also, private schools, on average, have 12 percentage-points lower passing rates than those in State Universities and Colleges (SUCS). Furthermore, nursing schools in Visayas tend to perform better, in terms of passing rates, relative to those situated in Luzon and more so in Mindanao. Size and age of the educational institutional also matter. That is, the larger and the older the school is, the more likely that it will perform better in licensure exams, controlling for other factors.

The paper also categorized some nursing programs as low-performing and high-performing. 64 out of the 461 schools that had exam results from 2012-2016 were identified as low-performing. Bulk of these schools are private and small schools and are from Mindanao.

It must be noted, however, that the authors qualified that the study is limited in that it based program performance on a single indicator, results of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) exam. They added that multiple metrics must be used to provide a full assessment, which includes total program cost in relation to passing rates, graduation rates, admissions policies, and over a longer view, the salaries of nurses that graduate from different programs. More data are needed in order to conduct these studies.

Ducanes and David recommends that CHED make information on Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) quality publicly accessible, to guide students in making informed decisions. Incentive mechanisms, such as “most improved” types of awards, may also be put into place to nudge the schools to improve their program performance. They also highlighted the importance of interagency cooperation in achieving systems reform. Most importantly, primary focus of reforms must be targeted towards areas where low performing schools are concentrated.

CIDS Policy Brief full text and appendixes are available here: http://cids.up.edu.ph/nurse-education-program-performance-evidence-from-licensure-exams/

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