By Kelly Phillips, staff writer
The organization that oversees nurse licensure recently announced that the
first three locations outside the United States that will offer nurse licensure
exams are Seoul, South Korea, London and Hong Kong.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) expects to begin
offering the NCLEX nurse licensing test in those cities next January as a
convenience to foreign-educated candidates, said Casey Marks, NCSBN director of
"It provides more options for the candidates," Marks said. "If people go
through all the hoops and fulfill all the requirements to come here, it just
makes it all a little easier. The test is just one small piece of the nurse
Currently, an international candidate must go through either a state nursing
board or the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools to begin meeting
licensing requirements. Once a board deems a candidate eligible, the foreign
nurse generally would go to the most convenient location to take the NCLEX.
Sometimes that was Guam or another United States territory, sometimes the East
Coast of the United States or Miami, Marks said.
The same licensure rules and procedures will apply in the new testing venues.
The change should make the process "more convenient and less expensive" for
international candidates, Marks said.
"Right now very little will be changing, although it is significant," he
said. "Part of the condition for having international testing was that the
licensure process would not change."
International candidates still will be held to the same standards as those
educated in the United States, he said.
While the NCLEX was given outside the United States as recently as the early
1990s, that hasn’t happened since the advent of the computer-adaptive NCLEX as
The NCSBN stressed the new sites aren’t aimed at luring large numbers of
"This is not a remedy to solve the nursing shortage," Marks said. "It sounds
like a big deal, but we don’t expect a huge number of nurses coming in because
Simply put, a nurse from the Philippines will find it cheaper to travel to
Hong Kong to take the test than to fly to California, he said.
Logistically, the change isn’t much more complicated than administering the
test in the United States, Marks said. Educational testing service firm Pearson
Vue administers the test in their centers in the United States, and will do so
in the foreign countries as well.
Locations were chosen based on security, availability and whether they had a
chance of helping make the program a success, according to Marks.
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