Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — More than 87,000 nurses of different nationalities work in the Kingdom. Only a few of them are Saudis.
The acute shortage of Saudi nurses is blamed on the poor standard of nursing education in the Kingdom as many of the graduates fail tests being conducted by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS).
“Some Saudi nurses opt for other jobs due to various reasons. Moreover, hundreds of them were found to be carrying unaccredited certificates and have been disqualified,” Dr. Sabah Abuzinada, a nursing consultant and a senior official at SCFHS, told Al-Watan Arabic daily.
In 2015, officials found 2,254 fake nursing certificates, the paper said.
Some Saudi nurses had to sit tests four times to obtain the professional license to practice.
Referring to the shortage of Saudi nurses, Abuzinada said: “Our society has not yet grasped the importance of the nursing profession. Many families and individuals do not consider it as a noble profession, especially for women as they have to work in a mixed environment.”
The poor quality of education at the colleges of nursing in the Saudi public and private sectors, lack of training facilities such as health labs and the non-availability of qualified teaching staff are other reasons for the shortage.
“Moreover, some people believe that it is very easy to study nursing, which is a wrong notion. As a result, students take their studies lightly and they often fail in the exams,” Abuzinada pointed out.
When Saudi nursing graduates fail the tests repeatedly, they look for other jobs. “Some workplace regulations force Saudi female nurses to choose between their career and family life. A lack of transportation and childcare facilities are among other reasons that force nurses, like other women employees, to quit their job,” Abuzinada explained.
Asked about the retention rate of male nurses, she said they also look for other jobs mainly because of low salaries and benefits.
Abuzinada emphasized the health commission’s efforts to strengthen the nursing profession in the Kingdom by providing intensive training opportunities.
However, she pointed out that the quality of nurses who have graduated from private nursing colleges was not up to the desired levels. “Results of a professional classification test conducted last year showed that 81 percent of nursing students have failed it. Most of these students were graduates of private nursing colleges and institutes,” she pointed out.
According to informed sources, 87,000 nurses currently work in the Kingdom and they belong to various nationalities. “We have tried to reduce the shortage of Saudi nurses by holding tests and providing training to those who have failed in exams with the support and partnership of major medical centers. Still the results are not up to acceptable levels,” Abuzinada said.
She said the commission did not impose any difficult condition on nursing graduates, especially those who obtained bachelor degrees from reputable universities.
“However, some nurses are required to attend cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training,” she added.