The only Filipino nurse to pass Japan’s nursing exam

Ever Lalin, like others in the first batch of 98 nurses and caregivers who went to Japan May last year for a training stint preparatory to taking the Japanese nursing licensure exam, had no prior lessons in the Niponggo language.

“Halimaw ah (A monster’s feat),” cheered nurse bloggers when it was announced last March that Ever, 34, was the only Filipino to pass the difficult licensure exam and the only foreign applicant to get it on the first try. Two Indonesians who had arrived a year earlier also passed. The exam included a proficiency test in “kanji,” Chinese characters that are a mindset away from those schooled in the Roman alphabet.

Director Nimpha De Guzman of the Welfare and Employment Office of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) noted that tests had showed Ever had a high aptitude for languages.

The nurse from Abra, noted De Guzman, had spent four years working in a hospital in Saudi Arabia and came home speaking fluent Arabic.

Interviewed via email for a presentation prepared by POEA-TV for the recent Migrant Workers Day celebration, Ever was quoted as saying it must have been her high motivation and dogged determination—for her professional satisfaction as well as the financial advancement of her family.

“I studied so hard…every minute counted,” she had told De Guzman. She took advanced Japanese review classes.

There was another thing going for Ever that other equally motivated Filipino nurses may not have had. The hospital she was assigned to—Ashikaga Red Cross Hospital—had a special intervention program for foreign trainees like Ever. A Japanese staff member was assigned to be her mentor, De Guzman shared.

Right after she got her Japanese nursing license, the Ashikaga hospital handed Ever an upgraded appointment to the emergency room, reportedly a section of her choice.

While learning Japanese may be difficult for a nation so long concerned with learning English, said officials, it’s not impossible. Inspired by Ever’s example, a new batch of trainees under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement has been dispatched.