Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Nursing Profession: Neutral Opinion from a Non Medico !
While watching the TV news today morning, a news clipping about the pathetic plight of the well qualified young nursing professionals both males and females in my home state, Kerala, got my attention.
I am not in anyway connected with this profession, though the story of Florence Nightingale, the lady who made this profession a honorable one in the world, was one that went deep into my heart when I was a small boy.
My home state Kerala is presently the leading state of India in literacy and health care. It achieved that position due to the pioneering works of foreign Christian Missionaries from Germany, Belgium and other European countries ever after Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the Malabar Coast of India from Europe. The direction and the light of literacy that they gave to the traditional Christians of the state made a surge in overall reformation in all walks of life in this small coastal state, a conglomerate of a few small princely Hindu states of unique traditions.
Nursing as a profession began from humble beginnings in the world as a necessary outcome of the industrial revolution in Europe followed by the many wars the Europeans fought among themselves.
In the formative years this was a profession which the general public viewed with suspicion and general contempt. Though for all those who were sick and suffering, the nurses were nothing less than angels in human form.
But all through out the world, even in this modern times, nursing profession is a profession which the public view with mixed reaction. In some places, they are respected and paid well. In most other cases, they are paid meagerly, exploited and treated like bonded slaves!
In the developed western countries and in most of the cash rich Persian gulf countries where health care is a serious concern of the governments and the public, the nurses are generally treated well and with respect.
Due to the high standards set by some rich countries in health care, there has been a rising demand for qualified nursing professionals in those countries. This has resulted in providing good opportunities and incomes for thousands of nurses from countries like India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Though their home countries do not provide respectable positions and remunerations, the prospects of high income and respect in some of the rich countries have created a beeline of people desiring to chose nursing as their career. In India, the Keralites have been in the forefront in this.
The high demand for qualified nursing professionals with high earning potentials in countries like Ireland and some other Europeans countries in the recent years followed by the changed education policies of the Indian government resulted in mushrooming of hundreds of nursing colleges in India offering degree courses in nursing.
All of a sudden nursing profession became the hottest and the most sought after profession in India. The opportunistic business men with the blessings of the ruling class quickly registered societies and trusts to establish Nursing Colleges which charged very high fees hitherto never heard of for such a study. No one ever complained about such an enormous and unjustified hike in the fees for nursing education which was not commensurate with the cost of providing the education but was merely on the basis of willingness of the aspirants to pay, dreaming on the chances of high earning that some of them might get in some foreign countries! The fee as it stands today for completing a 4-year nursing degree course in any of the newly established private nursing colleges amounts to nearly half a million rupees, a sum that a fresh graduate nurse would likely earn perhaps in five years of employment in any private hospital in India.
In short, the foreign earning potential for some, resulted in the establishment of a well patronaged exploitation system in India, comprising of influential people. A never to before heard of professional body called the Nursing Council of India also became a very influential and powerful body capable of determining the fate of thousands of young women and men of India. This professional body assumed such importance and prominence in recent years than many professional bodies that existed for decades earlier! Such a professional body with importance in the general sense is very good for the members of the profession, but apparently for outsiders like me, it appeared not working for that, but on the contrary.
The Armed Forces is one organization, perhaps out of compulsions from its European legacy, which provides respectable positions and career opportunities to trained nurses in their cadres. The military has a separate wing called the Nursing Corps where the nurses are inducted as commissioned officers with career opportunities for rising to respectably high ranks just as their counter parts in other professional areas.
The word nurse is with a feminine connotation. But this profession of late, is not reserved for ladies alone, though in the past it was some thing like that. The advancements in the medical profession in the recent years have necessitated induction of gentlemen also to this field. Such professionals who entered this female dominated profession are now called male-nurses!
I found these two words, nurses and male-nurses, an absurdity not befitting to the modern civilization and culture for many reasons. Regrettably I found no one from any walks of life, either from the intelligentsia or from the community of medicos or even from the nurses themselves ever raising such an issue.
Being a person from the non-medical field but with high regards to those in this profession, I feel that it is high time we think of discarding this nomenclature for this profession.
Why not think about some other titles instead ? Let me suggest some titles . Medical Care Executives, Medical Care Stewards, Hospital Stewards, Medical Service Assistants, etc are a few of my suggestions. I strongly feel that it is high time that we abandon the words Nurse and Nursing and some of its verbatim Indian translations like 'Paricharika' that are so thoughtlessly used in our society.
The qualified and exploited young professionals belonging to this field in the state which pioneered this profession in India have recently ventured into initiating a rightful agitation protesting against their continuing exploitation.
The most uncivilized and suppressive acts resorted by some of the otherwise reputed private hospital managements who cared little for their genuine grievances with the governmental authorities resorting to an equally irresponsible attitude caused the agitation coming to the media attention. Though the media coverage is not so wide, it is definitely drawing the attention of the public, not only in India but also in other countries.
No doubt, this agitation is the outcome of the poor state of affairs in the medical care field in India. It is high time that the authorities take note of it and act, not to suppress but to bring about honor and respect to those people who took up this noble profession.