Nurses demand better pay

Kathmandu, May 12

Nurses are among the most over-worked, underpaid, and under-appreciated in Nepal. Although they work longer hours than doctors do, have more personal interactions with their patients and are responsible to ensure that patients get the right medication at the right time, nurses are paid a small fraction of what doctors are, and are treated with very little respect by both patients and hospital administration.

On the occasion of International Nurse Day today, Apsara Pandey, vice-president of Nurse Association of Nepal, said that although there was a high demand for nurses in rural areas of Nepal, the government had not been able to organise and distribute the growing pool of trained nurses all over the country, leading to an increasing number of unemployed nurses in Nepal. Even those nurses who work are not happy with their jobs.

Roshni Shahi, a staff nurse at Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital, said patients and doctors talk to nurses disrespectfully, despite their long and hard hours of work for the welfare, safety, and recovery of patients.

She said, “Nurses invested many years in completing the course that qualifies them to the job. But doctors treat us like we are little more than the ‘magician’s assistant’, and patients treat us like we are their domestic help. We deserve better than this.”

Urusha Prajapati, a nurse at the Civil Hospital, said, “Doctors don’t have to deal with patients all the time. We are the ones who look after them round-the-clock, but not only are we paid much less than doctors, we are also treated with very little respect. Labour discrimination is a big issue in medical institutions in our country.”

There are 71,717 licensed nurses recorded in the Nurse Association of Nepal till April 17, 2017. However, many volunteer nurses work in medical institutions and hospitals in the country and are not paid for their services.