Manmohan Singh, speaking after laying the foundation stone of a medical college at Jorhat, said that shortage of doctors and nurses was the biggest hurdle as India sought to provide adequate healthcare facilities to the people.
Despite the shortage, Nursing in Punjab is viewed as a passport to settle abroad. With a shortage of skilled medical staff in many developed countries the prospects of high pay and social respect seems a huge reason for underpaid, overworked nurses in Punjab, who queue up at the nearest English speaking tuitions and apply for vacancies abroad.
According to the placement consultant of one of the leading ***** agencies in Chandigarh, “ The difference in the pay is reason enough for many young girls to nurses in foreign countries as they can earn anything between Rs 16-18 lakh annually, while in India their pay is less than Rs. 2 lakh. But there is also a huge number of nurses who are close to retirement but try to go abroad, the goal is to settle their families abroad.”
She added that, “Ladies have to spend anywhere from Rs 2 lakh for a 10-month course, with two months of training without pay at a hospital in New Zealand, Australia or Canada.”
Close to100 nursing institutes have come up in Panjab over the past few years, providing a nursing diploma and a few offering a degree programme. It is a normal practice for Nurses to get enrolled with private academies around the city to upgrade their diploma to an internationally accepted nursing degree. Institutes, which do not have an attached hospital for practical training, then send their students to get practical training at Government Hospitals.
After upgrading her diploma to a nursing degree acceptable in Australia, Shalini Mehta is all preparing for the IELTS exam, “The nurses who have settled in countries like New Zealand and Italy tell us that the amount of respect they get there is unmatched, where as in India there is no respect for the nurses. Although we work more than a doctor, in reality we are paid less and respected even lesser.” Mehta’s elder sister, also a nurse, moved to Australia with her husband and two children five years back.
Inderjeet Kaur Walia, the Principal of the PGI’s National Institute of Nursing Education (NINE), the country’s premier nursing institute, admits that the ambition to settle abroad is a goal for many students enrolled in the BSc nursing course, “The students come to our college to get training and if they do not get absorbed here then they do look for placements outside. Overseas placement is lucrative but I am sure it is not the only aim, many females work as nurses because it is a noble profession viewed with respect.” Walia added that, “The mandatory exam for nurses in USA, CGFNS (Commission of Graduate of Nursing School), is hardly an exacting test for reasonably good students of NINE.”
One of the students from NINE said that Last year, 30 to 40 nurses from the PGI went abroad on very good pay packages. Indian nurses have a reputation of being sincere and hard-working. Even this year, many nurses have gone to Ireland on a good salary.
Chandigarh-based INSCOL Academy of Nursing, which has a tie-up with the University of Sunderland in the UK offers job placement in the UK and the USA on an average salary of Rs 1.5 lakh a month.
While opportunities are galore there is caution needed aspiring Nurses must pay a lot of attention to the terms and conditions of the middleman, including the job consultants who are assisting their placement abroad. “Many a time, the nurses are required to pay 40 to 50 per cent of their salaries for two to three years under the contract signed between the nurse and the consultant,” said a placement consultant from the city.