Caring for carers

Nursing is considered a respected and a service-oriented profession, responsible for the protection, promotion and optimisation of health and abilities, prevention of illness, facilitation of healing and alleviation of suffering through diagnosis and treatment. Nursing is an art of loving and careful practices of looking after sick and injured people.

According to Nursing Council of Nepal, there are 74,840 registered nurses. Among them, only a few are working in Nepal.

The role of nurses in hospital is crucial. But those in nursing in the country are facing many problems. Most of the nurses often complain of being overworked and underpaid. Workplace harassment and bullying is yet another problem nurses often face.

According to the World Health Organisation, in the Intensive Care Unit, there should be one nurse for one patient; in operation theatre, three nurses for one patient; and in a ward, there should be one nurse for every five patients. But Nepal, a single nurse at times has to handle too many patients and too many departments. With nurses in few numbers working in hospitals across the country, they often have to handle more patients against the set standard. This could result in lack of care to the patients.

Lack of professional security, respect and good opportunities has resulted in high migration of nurses to foreign countries where they are well paid and have job security.

Nursing education in Nepal began in 1956 and it was eventually institutionalised through the Institute of Medicine in 1971. Nursing of late has become a major area of study for girl students after completing school education. A major driving force for students to study nursing is easy availability of jobs. Since there is a high demand of nurses in foreign countries like Australia and the US, this is also a major factor for many to choose nursing as profession. The profession also gives opportunities to serve the society. Nursing is a high pressure and challenging job with lots of responsibilities. But lack of opportunities for nurses and the problems they face at workplaces in Nepal, they often choose to migrate to foreign countries, due to which despite the country producing human resources in the field, it has not been able to get their services.

Identifying the problems facing nurses and addressing them duly could be one way to keep them within the country for the larger benefit of people in need of care.