FEU board program groups oppose abolition of licensure exams

FEU Advocate
August 11, 2021 03:21

By Mary Licel Biscocho

Various Far Eastern University (FEU) student-led organizations including the Institute of Nursing Student Council (IN-SC), Medical Technology Society (MTSOC), and Psychology Society (PsychSoc) countered the recent proposition of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Secretary Silvestre Bello III, suggesting the abolition of licensure examinations of professional degrees in the Philippines.

In an interview with FEU Advocate, IN-SC President Nicole Bianca Kwan stated how the competence of future professionals would be at stake once the abolition would be approved.

She explained that licensure exams are 'significant reference[s]' for evaluating the readiness of graduates as they standardize the knowledge, skills, and overall quality of future professionals before delivering them in real-life settings.

"To see if all of us have that competence and that standard to become a professional in a national setting, kaya meron tayong board exam so hindi lang siya dapat limited na per school, hindi lang 'yun 'yung dapat basehan natin kasi iba-iba 'yung turo per school. (The purpose of the board exam is to set a standard to see if all of us have that competence to become a professional in a national setting so the exams during the program shouldn't serve as the sole basis in determining our capabilities because schools have different standards)," Kwan added.

Referencing the statement mentioned by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Kwan stated that board exams are necessary to comply with the ASEAN Qualifications which require a national standard in evaluating professionals in each of its member countries.

Although abolishing the exams induces a positive effect of increasing the manpower particularly in healthcare settings, the council president believes that the license still withholds a significant amount of assurance to the public as it keeps the professionals responsible and liable for every service they offer.

She instanced, "As a professional nurse and kapag may license ka na, ayaw na ayaw mong gawin 'yung mga maling nangyayari kasi alam mong nakataya 'yung professional license mo and nakataya rin 'yung buhay ng mga pasyente mo. (As a professional and licensed nurse, you'll be more prompted to avoid erroneous measures because you're aware that you're placing your professional license and the lives of your patients at risk.)"

If the proposal would be approved, Kwan suggested that the officials should still mandate a national unified comprehensive exam in every professional degree to standardize the knowledge and skills of all graduates around the country.

Similarly, FEU MTSOC stood against the proposal stating that the said exams are "essential and viable in determining one’s knowledge throughout years of learning before being licensed professionals."

They highlighted that as healthcare workers, they are aware that such assessments are vital to assure their credibility as they fulfill their purpose in the profession.

Further, dropping the board exams would risk the quality of the professionals' capabilities and might even impose challenges for both the healthcare provider and its patients.

Apart from the mentioned organizations, the FEU PsychSoc also expressed their objection against Bello's statement. They believe that dissolving the exam is "detrimental to the academic future" as it might compromise the quality of excellence in the field, further placing their future patients at risk.

Also, it might instill a long-term negative effect academically which could then impede sustaining excellence in their mission in advocating mental health.

"Board exam means that we get to have a chance to test our skills and get a license to help people that are continuously suffering from unspoken battles," they emphasized.

Without the licensure exams, FEU PsychSoc believes that instead of helping, future psychologists might even cause challenges in healthcare settings like inaccurate diagnosis which could alter the treatment of a patient.

Bello on July 7 raised the suggestion to abolish licensure exams, especially in nursing and law, asserting that graduates of the said degrees have already taken enough tests as students.

"Kukuha sila ng four years, after graduating, kukuha sila ng board exam. Bakit pa kailangan ng board exam eh ilang exam ang dinaanan nila sa nursing? (They'll take the program for four years then after graduating, they have to take the board exam. Why do they have to take that when they've already taken numerous exams in the nursing program?)" the labor secretary told the media.

The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) has already declined the idea. PNA President Melbert Reyes stressed that the licensure exams measure whether the graduates are competent enough to serve in their respective professions.

Further, Reyes stated that PNA and the Philippine Board of Nursing "immediately rejected" the proposal in a meeting with Bello.

Additionally, Vice President Leni Robredo also opposed the idea, stating that the country's entire educational system should be overhauled if the officials decide to abolish the exams.

"Hindi siya pwedeng tatanggalin mo lang. (You can't just remove it)," she said.

Meanwhile, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero De Vera III stated that empirical data on demand and supply must be looked into before removing the exams. He added, the proposal must be considered only if the country's demand for professionals increases.

However, PRC Chairman Teofilo Pilando Jr. shared that they were still in the process of studying the possibilities of discontinuing board exams as these assessments were mandated by the law.