24 days ago

Higher education in nursing

A half-explored avenue of revenue

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The government continues to allow establishment of public and private universities in each district. Currently there are 53 public universities in Bangladesh. The number of private universities is 114. There are 37 public medical colleges and 70 private medical colleges.

The number of public university students is 4,362,187 while the number of private university students is 328,669. Government engineering universities and colleges have about 90,000 students. A total of 5,380 students study in public medical colleges and 6,295 in private medical colleges.

In proportion to the country's population, the number of universities is now much higher. About 2.5 million young men and women are graduating every year from public and private universities after receiving general education. But the rate of technical education is very low here. Nursing is one such area where a lot remains to be done, when it comes to education.

International Nurses Day: On May 2 last the International Nurses Day was observed worldwide. It was also observed in our country. The theme of this year's Nurses Day was "Our Nurses, Our Future, Service is Our Economic Strength". Some papers discussed the pros and cons of nursing. Nurses are very important people not only in our country but also in the world. Nurses and midwives are important and needed even in the developed countries of the world.

There is a shortage of nurses in our country. Medical services in our country are suffering due to lack of the required number of nurses. Patients are being denied appropriate and timely services due to this shortage.

Nursing professionals in our country are lagging behind in attaining higher education. One public institution is offering M.Sc. in Nursing here. Although here are a handful of private institutions, one-third of the seats remain vacant due to lack of different facilities. On the other hand, there is no opportunity to acquire Ph.D. degree in any government or private institution. Experts say that critical care patients are being deprived of services due to the shortage of specialist nurses with advanced degrees. This is hindering development of medical management, including achievement of the related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). In such a situation the 'International Nurses Day-2024' was observed marking the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. On the occasion of the day, the Department of Nursing and Midwifery organized an awareness procession and a discussion too.

Nursing education in the country: There are 2100 seats available under the four-year B.Sc. Besides, there are 725 seats for two-year B.Sc. in Nursing in ten institutions and 270 seats for two-year M.Sc. in Nursing in two institutions.

Apart from this, 1,630 seats have been sanctioned in 21 private institutions, but one-third of the seats remain vacant due to various restrictions. Like doctors, nurses also play an important role in curing a patient. They are engaged in taking care of patients 24 hours a day. But the patients are facing difficulties because of the shortage of professional and highly-qualified nurses.

Higher education of nurses: There are 120 seats for studying six specialized subjects in the capital's Mughda Nursing Higher Education and Research Institute, but only 60 seats are available for admission. Besides, the College of Nursing (Sherebangla Nagar) is waiting for launch of its M.Sc. course. Recently, the autonomous institution Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) has created a total of 27 seats. 21 private institutions have been allowed to offer M.Sc. degree in nursing. However, 22 nurses have officially completed their PhD in Community/Public Health in the country. Besides, 16 people have done PhD in nursing abroad. Currently eight nurses are studying PhD abroad.

Number of nurses: According to the Society for Nurses Safety and Rights (SNSR), the number of registered nurses and midwives coming out from public and private institutions in the country is 152,021 (1 lakh 52 thousand 21) against 136 thousand registered doctors. Among them, B.Sc. in Nursing (Post Basic) degree holders are 7,192 and B.Sc. in Public Health Nursing degree holders are 1,618. The total number of four-year B.Sc. degree holder registered nurses is 10,151.

Almost all the developed countries of the world have subject-specific nursing specialists like medical departments, but Bangladesh is at an early stage of it. The country lags far behind in creating opportunities for nurses to pursue higher education. Recently the Ministry of Health has given administrative approval to offer higher degrees in ten old nursing colleges.

Some suggestions:

1. Developing nursing education in the country requires more and more effective steps. We need to determine how many nurses Bangladesh needs. Nursing education should be tailored accordingly.

2. To meet the needs of the country, nurses should be well-educated and initiatives should be taken for their employment abroad too. Then we will get a new avenue of earning foreign currency.

3. In order to produce nurses suitable for foreign countries, our educational programmes need to be adapted to the needs of those nations. The curricula of public and private nursing colleges should be revamped. Education should be made modern and up-to-date. The demand for nurses in foreign, developed countries cannot be met with inexperienced teachers and below-standard curricula. Nursing education should be developed on the model of developed countries. Nursing education should be developed according to district-wise needs in the country as well. The government should have an action plan in every budget to develop nursing colleges in every district to better their standards.

4. The government should provide more policy support in setting up nursing colleges and institutions in the private sector. But you have to be more careful in maintaining the quality.

5. Study patterns, methods and techniques in nursing colleges should be learnt from modern countries. Nursing education cannot be advanced in the traditional way. The quality of teachers should be raised and the education system should be changed. Then the educated nurses also will get jobs abroad at higher rates.

6. Nursing colleges and institutions' foreign curriculum requires students to learn a few foreign languages for employment abroad. Notable among them are English, Japanese, Arabic, French and German. Language learning should be included in the curriculum, so that there is no difficulty with their employment in these developed countries. A Bachelor's degree holder nurse must acquire proficiency in any two languages specified. So, two languages can be considered as a requirement for applying for a nurse's job in that country.

Abul Quasem Haider is founder chairman of Eastern University, Islamic Finance and Investment Ltd., Australian International School and Abul Quasem Haider Mohila College, Sandwip, Chattogram.

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