He Came, He Saw, He Revolutionized
How NEAC Revolutionized the International Licensing Process
It was the year 2006 when the history of medical licensing for international applicants is bound to change forever. The agony of international medical professionals, especially Filipino nurses who went through the rigorous, confusing, and risky process of filing their application for the NCLEX exam on their own was about to end. The whole application process was about to become an easy feat, and they would owe it to one man-Dr. Elbe Akman.
He revolutionized the medical licensing and exam applications for international medical professionals making it easier, efficient, and cost-effective by centralizing and developing a series of services to facilitate the complex application process. This has not only eliminated expensive mistakes that were costing millions of dollars every year to Filipino applicants, but also empowered them to negotiate better salaries, benefits, and terms, with employers and placement agencies and saved them the time they needed to study for the difficult Medical Licensing Exams such as NCLEX.
Since 1948, the Philippines has been continuously sending thousands of nurses to the US. The number of nurses also increased as the country had to endure an economic crisis in the ’70s. As part of the survival strategy, then-President Marcos sent more Filipino nurses to work abroad to help the economy. Since then, the Philippines has become the number one supplier. About 80% of the world’s supply of nurses and medical professionals in the USA as well as Canada, the UK, Germany, Spain, and the Middle East are Filipinos.
However, nurses had to hurdle an obstacle course of procedures before they could land on the job. Most of the time, they didn’t know where to apply, what documents were needed for which State, where and how to send payments, what departments to submit to, dealing with credential evaluation, FBI criminal background check, eligibility, ATT, and scheduling phases as each phase was difficult. This kind of disarray often resulted in mistakes, applications getting lost, delayed, disqualified, or worse yet- rejected, risking their money, time, and effort altogether. Some applicants become vulnerable to absurd fees from placement agencies, or they had to sign placement contracts with terms unfavorable to them but in return, the agencies were processing their licensing exam applications. This type of scenario was common back then and when Dr. Akman saw this chaos, he knew something must be done.
“One of the stories that became an eye-opener and source of my motivation was when I heard how some poor families had to sell everything they had just so their kids could enroll in a nursing school. There was this applicant whose father sold his only carabao (water buffalo) to have the money for the application fees however end up losing that money when his daughter applied to a Board of Nursing that she later found that she was not qualified to, some boards of nursing forfeit the application fees in such cases. This is just one story. There were hundreds of inspiring yet heartbreaking stories we were hearing now and then. Therefore, I pursued establishing NEAC so it could become an instrument to make the lives of people easier. NEAC echoes their dreams.” Dr. Elbe Akman narrates. Today if you read more than 2000 testimonials on the NEAC website you will realize how NEAC has stopped this bleeding wound and has been a solution provider since then.
Indeed, Dr. Akman has helped more than 65,000 nurses get licensed internationally since 2007 through NEAC, the company he founded. Not only that it became the top choice of applicants from the Philippines, but it also become a ‘go-to hub’ for international medical professionals from all over the world such as UAE, India, Europe, the Middle East, the USA, and South America. Along with its strategic partnerships with key institutions, companies, and exam coordinators from more than 8 countries (and counting), over the years are the reasons why they are always ahead of others. NEAC has gained numerous recognition awards from different agencies including the Consumers' Choice Award.
NEAC maintains its reputation as the pioneer in its field and the most- trustworthy Medical Exam and Licensing Center in the world, and Dr. Elbe Akman, the revolutionary businessman who changed International Licensing Process.
Dr. Elbe Akman’s affinity for entrepreneurship started at an early age. He recalled selling his old comic books on the sidewalk when he was still a kid. In high school, he made a self-published sports magazine and sold copies in his school. During his college years, he invested in vending machines which was the “in” thing at that time. However, his real success story was about to start somewhere far from home.
It all started when his close friend asked if he could help recruit nurses in the Philippines. Thankfully, he had spent a 3-month tour in Southeast Asia beforehand, so he readily accepted the proposal. Before the introduction of the recruitment business, Dr. Akman was an IT Manager in Silicon Valley earning 6- figures in Time Warner – Netscape International Division. After finishing his MBA, he strongly felt the need to start his own business. Although, before that, he already had built a business providing e-commerce solutions for companies in the mid-1990 when these technologies were just started surfacing. He could have stayed in Silicon Valley and become one of the pioneers in the IT business, but his calling was somewhere beyond the Golden Gate. So, when the idea of hiring nurses in Asia came into the picture, he left everything behind and started a new business.
“I never thought I would be offering services in the medical field to medical professionals. I think it was destiny that brought me to Asia first, a region I fell in love with, and then within a month’s time from my return presented an opportunity in that region. Had I not visited Asia before that proposal came, I don’t think I would have accepted it. But I think God prepared me for what is yet to come.”
He flew first to Singapore and partnered with a local agency that offered online NCLEX Review courses through Kaplan and then flew to the Philippines in 2002 to recruit more nurses for his California-based company, CAREX Consulting International. He relocated to the Philippines to grow his business and continue full-time recruitment activities. While interviewing applicants, he saw the troublesome state nurses were in during the application process. The international licensing procedure is complicated and even local (US) applicants would find it hard. He saw the confusion and the stress that applicants went through due to the decentralized process and lack of means for international nurses to send payments to the related institutions in the U.S. The U.S. institutions assumed everyone has either a credit card or checking account which was definitely not the case in the Philippines or some other underdeveloped countries at that time.
The first three years went smoothly until the US immigration retrogression kicked in for the Philippines and recruiting nurses and sending them to the US became almost impossible or extremely slow which wouldn’t be conducive enough to generate enough revenues to sustain his business. Dr. Akman was put in a difficult situation as he had already spent money on applicants' immigration and relocation costs. Instead of retreating to the US, Dr. Akman faced the challenge before him. He pursued the idea that would change the history of medical licensing for good.
He put down all his remaining savings in the bank to rent another office in a prime location to start providing a new service to nurses when things came to a screeching halt in the Immigration (for nurses). He was seeing the broader picture. He had an idea, and a concept he was excited about, and he knew he had a solution for a problem that made many medical professionals suffer since the 1950s. He was at that time working on getting his Ph.D. in Management field and he decided to write his dissertation on the Clientele Needs of International NCLEX Applicants.
His studies helped him further to develop a complete package of services that International NCLEX applicants needed. This gave birth to NCLEX Application Processing Center (NAPC), a center designed to centralize the exam application process, provide consultancy services, and do all the application preparation processes for international NCLEX applicants. This way, applicants didn’t need to study 50 different states to find out which one they are qualified for, which ones are advantageous to apply to, which ones are easier, which ones have lesser requirements, which ones don’t require US SSN, which ones are cheaper etc., and what US State pay higher salaries to their nurses and offer better work conditions, and so on. To be able to compare all these, one had to study all the States, which would be very time-consuming as well as figure out the credential evaluation process, FBI fingerprinting and local license verification processes, etc. Soon after Irish Carias Akman, who has become his wife down the line, joined the NEAC team as the Processing Manager and she has built the ‘States Packages Database’ she calls to make it easy to find qualifications and requirements for each state, which also helped training new consultants to assist inquiring applicants and she has contributed in many other aspects of the company’s growth.
Dr. Akman believes that through NEAC, applicants save money and time, and increase their success rate in the exams since they don’t need to waste their time studying the complex licensing process and instead channel their energy and time to study for the exams which as a result increases their passing rate. Medical Professionals now have better leverage to negotiate their terms with agencies and foreign employers and not be taken advantage of like before when they didn’t know how to process their applications and needed the agencies’ assistance. Being internationally licensed such as USRNs or HAAD DHA Passers, increase their chances to find better-paying jobs and benefits compared to those who are not licensed yet even though they are locally licensed in the Philippines.
His Contribution to Filipino Medical Professionals Community and the Philippines Economy
It is estimated that NEAC has prevented about PHP 1 Billion (PHP 1,066,321,200.00) of protentional financial losses for Filipino medical professionals since 2007 and continues to do so. Such financial losses took place before NEAC had centralized the international licensing process in the Philippines.
Dr. Elbe Akman revolutionized and contributed to the international medical licensing field in the Philippines by centralizing the NCLEX-RN USA application process and later other countries licensing application processes for Filipinos and many other nationalities. This helped with:
- Preventing mistakes that were taking place during the application process, such as: choosing a qualified state, filling out the applications, submitting the requirements, sending related fees overseas, and credential evaluation processing, which used to cost hundreds of millions of pesos to Filipino families and the Philippines economy,
- Empowering medical professionals in negotiating their salaries and benefits with agencies and overseas employers by licensing them before they are recruited or hired. This put a stop to the financial abuses they were going through to get licensing assistance from the recruitment agencies or employers overseas who were offering lower salaries if they were not licensed yet
- Eliminating months to one-year delays in the international licensing process which use to slow down potential remittances coming in from medical OFWs which are the source of 50% of overall remittances to the Philippines. This alone has contributed billions of pesos to the Philippine's economy since 2007.
- There are thousands of testimonials that can be found on FB and NEAC’s website from more than 65,000 applicants who were assisted by NEAC, proving the contribution of NEAC to medical professionals in the international licensing field.
CFO - Commission on Filipino Overseas, a government department of the Philippines Awards Dr. Elbe Akman for Revolutionizing a Centralized Medical Application and Licensing from its Soils
All hard work paid off when the office of the CFO (Commission on Filipino Overseas) awarded NEAC Founder, Dr. Elbe Akman, a Certificate of Appreciation for his contributions to the licensing and exam applications for international medical professionals since 2002. The ceremony was conducted by Undersecretary Abdul Ghani Macatoman on October 19, 2022, at CFO headquarters, in Paco, Manila. The event highlights not only a moment etched for NEAC but for the Philippines where this revolutionary achievement for the medical professionals began. Dr. Elbe Akman, who wrote his doctorate dissertation on NCLEX clientele needs, built a system that eliminates the topsy-turvy application process now benefited by medical professionals worldwide (by centralizing the exam and licensing application, that is). CFO is also citing for a Presidential Award for his contribution to the country.
If we look back, before the establishment of NEAC in 2007, nurses were experiencing confusion, long delays and financial losses applying to NCLEX. Dr. Akman claims these losses were adding up to billions of Philippines Pesos. To note, each American state has a different requirement and procedure, where most international applicants fall short of complying due to the complicated and multi-layered application process that involves both government agencies and non-profit organizations to process their eligibility, credential evaluation, criminal background check, authorization to test, scheduling and international money transfers etc. Applying to NCLEX for international nurses have been a rigorous process, and not to mention the requirements and qualifications continuously change. There was no singular entity that took care of this problem, until NEAC. It was costing both sides, applicants and Boards of Nursing, time and money. Dr. Akman saw this problem when he came to the Philippines, thus centralized the whole process which finally gave ease to all parties involved. A faster, cost-effective, hassle-free application paved way for an increasing number of Filipino nurses find their way to realize their dreams. Moreover, the centralized process helped the Philippines from losing billions yearly in revenues from remittances and eased the Boards of Nursing work load and lowered their application processing time since all the applications being submitted to them were mistake free with all the required documents attached and payments made in the correct order and to the correct departments.
NEAC has not stopped there and provided the same service for many other countries’ medical licensing exams. Today NEAC, aside from the USA, handles the following countries: UK, Canada, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Australia and adding more countries every year.
For the last 2 decades, through his company NEAC, Dr. Elbe Akman who is considered by his accolades an American citizen but Filipino by heart has already helped more than 65,000 medical professionals get licensed internationally and provided millions of applicants free initial online consultations and screening. The success of serving the country he considered a second home has reached far beyond than the 7,000-plus islands as it is also helping nurses and other medical professionals from all seven continents. NEAC continues to hire more Filipinos as the company continues growing to cater to the increasing demand for its service here and abroad. Assisting BPO-Business Process Outsourcing companies to license their Nurses which enables them to secure new clients from the US which opens up hundreds of job opportunities. NEAC also shares it’s blessings through charitable works by mobilizing support to places that are devasted by calamities, they have long list of track record of their contributions on their website.
Dr. Elbe Akman is not only a businessman who established a business in the Philippines but whose name and contributions will be cemented in the history of the medical profession. With that, we can rightfully claim with great pride that the centralization of medical licensing exams applications for international applicants was first done and started here in the Philippines.