By Sheshu Babu*
In big hospitals – Government or private – nurses play a crucial part. While doctors look after patients till operation, nurses take care of post-operative trauma and assist in speedy recovery. They have not only to deal with in-patients and comfort them by their constant attendance, but also calm down the anxious helpers who accompany patients and eagerly wait for nurses in administering medicines to relieve patients from pains that are mostly unbearable at times. Their duties include regular check-up round the clock to note down temperature variations, blood -pressure changes, monitoring intra-venous injections, etc.
According to American Nurses Association, by 2022, there will be a need for 3.44 million nurses (“Nurses Shortage Statistics”, January 19, 2016, by Liz Sheffield, peopleelement.com). The nursing shortage becomes serious issue when considering how it impacts patient care. Evidence suggests that some in-hospital or discharge deaths could be prevented with improved nurse-to-patient ratio.
In India, shortage of doctors is estimated at 600,000 and nurses’ shortage is 2 million according to scientists who found that lack of staff who are properly trained in administering antibiotics is preventing patients from accessing life-saving drugs. (“India facing shortage of 600,000 doctors , 2 million nurses: Study”, last updated April 14, 2019, economictimes.indiatimes.com). In India, there is one government doctor for every 10,189 people (World Health Organization [WHO] recommends a ratio of 1:1000) and the nurses patient ratio is 1:483 which is huge.
With many hospitals reluctant to hire nurses adequately, the existing staff are forced to work in trying circumstances often with extended hours as substitutes are not available most of the time. Yet, they try hard to look after patients. Despite exhaustion and work related stress, nurses rarely show anger on patients. Many of them are given inadequate salary and face insecurity with high chances of firing by management.
Male nurses low
In 1970, a study from United States Census Bureau indicates the total percent of men who worked as nurses within United States in terms of all the girls who worked as nurses was just 2.7 percent (“Nursing Facts and Statistics”, March 11 2019, trendstatistics.com). A recent check indicates that some 9.7 percent of Americans working as nurses are men.
The percentage of men as nurses in India can easily be imagined. Thus, there is a strong bias in this field. Due to low wages, tedious work conditions, many men do not prefer to work in this field. Women who mostly have limited option and little choice are forced to choose this field.
These nurses are true ‘healers’ of mankind as they serve all sections of society across caste or religion or gender and do not hesitate to touch any part of body and administer the medicines on affected part.
They should be respected and provided with better facilities for a better living.
*The writer from anywhere and everywhere supports human rights