Public hospitals face risk of shortage of nurses

The Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City, on September 30, said that shortly, the shortage of nurses at hospitals is forecasted to be more serious when the number of newly recruited nurses is not sufficient in both quantity and quality to make up for the number of those who quitted their jobs.
Public hospitals face risk of shortage of nurses ảnh 1 Nurses take care of patients at Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital. (Photo: SGGP)
Specifically, according to the HCMC Department of Health, 2,300 students signed up for nursing school in 2021. In 2022, only 781 students enrolled in nursing school at the Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University, down 66 percent. This situation has become common in schools with nursing majors.

The shortage of human resources in nursing is a worrying situation, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. The nursing job is low-paid despite its hard work, increasing work pressure, and working environment with high risks of infection. As a result, many nurses have quitted or changed their jobs. Meanwhile, a few nurses are recruited by private hospitals with higher salaries.

In addition, intermediate nurses face difficulties in studying to upgrade their qualifications to college and university levels according to the regulations of the Ministry of Health.

On the other hand, the training cost for bachelor's and college nursing programs is relatively high. It costs from VND35-40 million for each school year, but when nursing students graduate, the work is hard, the salary is low, and there is no compensation policy. Therefore, the number of students applying to nursing schools has been decreasing day by day.

According to Dr. Tran Thi Chau, Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Nursing Association cum Chairwoman of the HCMC Nursing Association, there should be a policy to support tuition fees for nursing students to attract enrollment and financial support for training to improve the abilities and skills of nurses currently working at hospitals. At the same time, hospitals must place orders for schools to enroll and train vocational groups following their actual needs.

Sharing the same point of view, M.S. in Nursing Thai Thi Kim Nga, Head of the Nursing Department of City International Hospital, said that it is essential to set a suitable working regime, creating conditions for nurses to have more time to rest to regenerate their labor power because nursing is a relatively strenuous job, both mentally and physically.

Faced with this situation, the city's health sector has proposed the municipal People's Committee have mechanisms and policies to help increase the salary of the nursing staff. In the meantime, priority is given to increasing income for all nurses currently working at public health facilities in the city, including those under specialized contracts, according to Resolution No.03/2018/NQ-HDND.

In addition, the Department of Health proposed that the People's Committee of HCMC submit a written request to the Ministry of Health to extend the time allowed to recruit nurses, midwives, and intermediate medical technicians until January 1, and extend the time limit for standardizing the college level for those who have been recruited at the intermediate level until December 31, 2030; at the same time, allow schools in the health sector to continue training nurses, midwives, and medical technicians at intermediate level to do jobs that do not require high expertise.

According to Assoc. Prof.-Dr. Tang Chi Thuong, Director of the Department of Health of HCMC, in the face of fluctuations in human resources of the public health system, the health sector has received attention, encouragement, and temporary solutions from the city.

Specifically, the city will provide additional income support for medical staff according to Resolution No.03/2018/NQ-HDND of the People's Council of HCMC.

The health sector is allowed to add retired professional personnel, such as doctors and nurses with considerable experience and good health, to the grassroots medical system and, at the same time, allowed to supplement additional titles of the security guard and paramedic for medical centers according to Resolution No.01/2022/NQ-HDND dated April 7, 2022, of the People's Council of HCMC.

The city will carry out a pilot program of clinical practice at the General Hospital in association with the Medical Center for newly-graduated medical doctors to issue a practicing certificate with the scope of general medical examination and treatment, ensuring that the medical centers are supplemented with one to two general medical practitioners. Doctors who practice at the medical centers receive financial support from the city budget.

By Thanh Son – Translated by Thuy Doan

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