The latest NCLEX data paints a dire picture for healthcare officials who may be looking toward international workers to help alleviate the nursing shortage. The first quarter of 2010 saw the fewest number of international NCLEX test takers and test passers since 2006. The 3,120 international NCLEX test passers are just 55% of peak 2007 numbers.

While the US nursing shortage certainly has eased in recent months, economists and government officials all agree that this is a temporary condition. The U.S. nursing shortage is projected to grow to between
260,000 and 500,000 registered nurses by next decade. If even the smallest estimates are correct, a shortage of this magnitude would be twice as large as any nursing shortage experienced in this country since the mid-1960s.

Only 3,120 international test takers took and passed the NCLEX in the first quarter of 2010. That's the smallest number of international test takers since at least 2006, which is the earliest data on the NCSBN website.

In 2006, about 20,907 internationally educated RNs passed the NCLEX exam for an average of 5,227 per quarter. In 2007, the volume jumped; 22,827 internationally educated nurses passed the NCLEX exam, or 5,707 per quarter. With the onset of retrogression, 2008 saw a decline; 18,905 internationally educated RNs passed the exam, or 4,726 per quarter. In 2009, the international NCLEX pass number shrunk to 13,799 per year (3,450 per quarter).

It is obvious that reasonable visa opportunities for international nurses must happen or else the US is going to find that it has a massive nursing shortage and international nurses are no longer there to fill the gap.

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