Poor education and training to blame for shortage of Saudi nurses, says...

Poor education and training to blame for shortage of Saudi nurses, says official

Dr. Sabah Abuzinada, SCFHS official
Dr. Sabah Abuzinada, SCFHS official

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.


  1. If this is the case……then how exactly were they planning to Saudize the job market again? …

  2. Train local Saudi man n woman on the job . We Saudi men and woman can do the job and the revenue will be retain back in the country .

    Stop using foreign nurses .we Saudi can do the job .

  3. I believe it’s the lack of commitment. I also believed as a nurse who have worked with local nurses, clinical Instructors needs to be in the area if they are really serious about teaching their nurses. I agree with Fra Sabah when she said that the kingdom have not yet grasp the importance of our profession, because people see it as a low profession. Enough with the pride and ego, us expats came here not to steal the job, we came here because we were needed.

  4. The problem is within the entire Saudi Arabian educational system, especially the public educational institutions.

    There are many unqualified teachers, instructors, professors in these institutions. Likewise, there are Saudis in these positions who could careless for their own countrymen and women.

    Some Saudis and expat instructors alike aren’t qualified to be standing in front of students nor working in administration and Deanships.

    Saudis in managerial or supposed leadership roles delegate (instead of doing their own jobs) their duties to expats who also many not be skilled nor qualified to teach at all or in that area.

    Many institutions implement a ‘plug and play’, meaning they put a body in places where they need one, even though it may not be an area of knowledge or expertise of the person.

    In another extreme case, instructors who have demonstrated skills and knowledge across industries are only allowed to teach in their degree field. There are people who have verifiable certifications in other areas compatible to their degree(s) or even skills acquired from working in different sectors of companies or corporations.

    Saudis aren’t put to task to with regards to their qualifications as do the expats prior to being hired to work in the Kingdom. A sort of double standard. Everyone should have to prove their worth, Saudis and Expats.

    Last, but not least, there’s the Quality Assurance Department, which is a big joke, to say the least. They wouldn’t know quality if it stood in front of their faces.

    They employ methods which have nothing to do with accreditation, in order to keep themselves relevant. They can’t even get accreditation of their own countries educational institutions.

    I agree with saudization and getting reducuction of expats, but be careful that you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

    There are some very knowledgeable, skilled and honest expats who come to this country to benefit its citizens and not seeking to keep them down under foot. But the Kingdom needs to do a better job at selecting both Saudis and expats to educate its people. Not continuing to let the blind lead the blind and seeking just to be at the top as many Saudis do.

    Best regards,
    Resident Expat

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