‘Second doctors’ and ‘angels of mercy,’ are how nurses are often described. Whichever way you look at it or whatever you call them, nurses are an integral part of the healthcare sector. NT KURIOCITY highlights this noble profession
Maria Fernandes NT Kuriocity
Nursing, in essence has very much been around since the beginning of time, and today, nurses are one of the most important professions within the health care industry. They are engaged in a wide range of occupational duties that are required for the functioning of the health care sector throughout the world.
What does nursing involve?
Nurses’ duties include taking care of patients suffering from all sorts of physical as well as psychological problems. Monitoring their condition and administering the prescribed medicines at regular intervals, is their prime responsibility. They also assist doctors and help set up medical equipment in operation theatres and clinical laboratories. Earlier giving hygienic care to the sick was the major responsibility of the nurse, however today with globalisation and technological advancement the role of the nurse has changed.
HOD and principal of the department of nursing, Shri Padmavati Mahila University, Tirupati, B G Bhavani, says, “There is no end to a nurse’s job. Nurses have to assume responsibility for the continuous care of the sick, the injured, the disabled, and the dying. Even after death of the patient, the nurse still has responsibilities. These include not just handling the dead patient but also the family of the deceased.”
Is this the career for me?
Nursing is a very tough and difficult job and according to the principal of Institute of Nursing, Bambolim, Carol Noronha; one should pursue it only if he/she is passionate about service to humanity. “As a nurse, you need to be patient, responsible, dedicated and most important like people. If you don’t like people you will be a misfit. You are also required to possess genuine compassion and be always tactful. Since you are on your feet hours at a stretch, you need to be physically fit,” she adds.
Harshada Chodankar, a nurse with more than thirty years experience, states that the hours are gruelling and one cannot leave until the reliever comes. “Doing two shifts or 12 to 14 hour shifts is very common,” she says. Thus, willing to work extra hours and put in night shifts is a given. “In order to excel as a nurse, one has to develop loads of patience, courage and a smile that comes automatically,” she adds.
The demand for nurses is only rising
India along with the rest of the world is facing a severe shortage of qualified nurses. Due to the increasing population and overall need for better healthcare facilities and of course newer and more dangerous diseases coming up, there is an unending demand for nurses in the country. Even healthcare workers who have done a diploma are in short supply. “Nurses are always in demand and some of our students are absorbed even before the results of the final exams are declared,” says Bhavani.
An insider’s view
Nursing is a mostly a female-dominated industry however with time and change in mindset, the number of male students joining has increased. Greyno Menezes a fourth year BSc Nursing student is just one of the seven male students in the class. According to him, nursing is a difficult and very hectic career and one has to be tough not just physically but also mentally for the work involved. The syllabus too is not easy and one needs to study every single day, he states. Added to this are the numerous assignments and research in the third year. “Throughout the four years we study twenty four subjects in all and are also given exposure in government hospitals, as well as health centres in urban and rural areas. We do proper shifts when we are at the hospitals and since we are students we also have to face unwilling, uncooperative and sometimes very angry patients,” he says.
Neuro-surgery and ICU are the most challenging departments he has worked in, he admits. “Neuro-surgery, because the work is extremely demanding and ICU because you see death nearly every day and patients are all very sick or dying and handling that is not very easy,” he says.
Chodankar also says that it takes a great deal to be a nurse. “Besides the initial study in college, nurses are always learning and have to keep abreast of all the latest technologies, drugs and much more. They also have to deal with not just people who are sick or dying but also with their relatives. Then there are doctors some of who are not easy to get along with besides the technicians, ward boys, and people from other auxillary departments,” she says. The job, she adds, requires passion, grit, determination and loads of empathy.
Salaries are dependent on various factors, the level of education, area of expertise, work location and years of experience. Employment opportunities vary, ranging from hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, health departments, old age homes, orphanages, schools, railways, institutes, public sector medical department, research and also the services like the army, navy and air force. “In Goa, the pay scales are lower than compared to other states but government jobs offer anywhere from `30,000 to `35,000,” informs Noronha. “The starting salary in private institutions start from `13,000 to `15,000 but again that depends on many factors,” adds Bhavani.
Nurses can also take up administrative and teaching positions in medical colleges and nursing schools. Enterprising individuals can start their own nursing bureaus or even work on their own terms and conditions.
What are the courses available?
A student has various options available to enter the nursing profession. You can pursue a diploma, graduate or postgraduate course in nursing. You can also opt for midwifery courses though some nursing courses include this as part of the programme.
In Goa, the Institute of Nursing in Bambolim offers:
An Auxiliary Nurse Midwife/ Health Worker (ANM) course: The duration of this diploma course is two years and it can be joined after completing Class 12.
B Sc Nursing (Basic): The eligibility criterion for this degree program is a 10+2 with 50 per cent aggregate in Biology, Chemistry, English, and Physics and a minimum age of 17 years. The duration is four years.
M Sc in Nursing: This requires a B Sc in nursing along with a minimum of 55 per cent aggregate marks.
Before enrolling for the course, Noronha has a word of advice, “One has to remember that the course is not easy and involves a lot of studying. To be a nurse one needs specials abilities along with the right attitude. I would recommend that those who wish to join, first do a little research, speak to past and present students and even visit places where nurses are employed, to get a clearer picture of what nursing entails.”