Nursing today has graduated from being merely a calling for those with altruistic needs to becoming a lucrative career choice.
Nurses are indispensable in the healthcare system and it will not be an exaggeration to say that a hospital’s reputation rests on its nursing staff. Any healthcare facility without nurses is like a rudderless ship. Doctor’s do their job and move on. It is the dedicated nurses who ensure that the patient is comfortable during his stay in the hospital and feels better when going back home.
Today the role of nurses is not restricted to pre and post operative care alone. They wear many hats including that of clinical nurses, clinical nurses specialists, advance practice nurses, independent nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwife, nurse anesthetists, nurse educators, nurse administrators and nurse researchers.
A nurse’s job includes medical management, surgical management, pre and post operative care. She has to follow a nursing process i.e. when a patient is admitted –she has to collect data about the patient. She needs and decide on the line of treatment. A nurse thus plays a vital role in preventive curative and rehabilitative services.
Apart from the essentials qualities of being compassionate and dedicated, nurses have to be mentally very tough as they have to treat patients without getting emotionally swayed.
Nursing a patient is a big challenge. A nurse should be able to assess, fix goals plan the treatment as per the comprehensive nursing care program. Nurses also need to have sound technical skills and should be able to assist in various invasive procedures. Apart from this they should also have good communication skills.
The Nursing Council of India is the central regulatory body for courses in nursing. Apart from this, there are state nursing councils. Listed below are courses for various nursing jobs:
>> Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife: It’s a one and a half year course with the minimum qualification being a class 10 pass.
>> Diploma in General Nursing and Mid wifery (GNM): This is a three and a half year course with minimum qualification being 10+2 pass with an aggregate of 40 percent.
>>BSc Nursing (Basic): It is a four year course with minimum qualification being 10+2 pass with 45 percent aggregate in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
>> Post Basic BSc Nursing: This is a two year course minimum qualification being 10 + 2 and a GNM. The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has a three year distance learning course with minimum qualifications being 10 + 2 plus a GNM with two year’s of experience.
All the above listed courses educate nurses on various aspects of healthcare. Anatomy, psychology, microbiology, community health nursing, medical surgical nursing and communication and educational technology are some of the subjects that form part of these courses. These courses equip nursing students with basic knowledge and skills.
With growing demand for various specialized courses, there are numerous long term and short term offerings that have been started to equip nurses to handle critical medical services. Some of the long term courses include cardio-thoracic and vascular nursing to deal with heart ailments; psychiatric nursing to deal with mental ailments and critical care nursing to work in critical or intensive care hospital units so as to provide care to patients with cardiovascular, respiratory, or pulmonary failure. Short term courses include ICU courses, neo-natalogy courses and paraplegic care courses.
In addition to graduation, one can also opt for MSc, M Phil and even pursue a PhD in nursing. On doing these advanced courses a nurse can independently take total charge of a patient in his/her area of specialization. Their work is better evaluated in specialized areas and if they fit into the skill attributes, they can be promoted.
A recent report by PWC on Healthcare in India states that an estimated 450,000 additional hospital beds will be required by 2010 – an investment estimated at $ 25.7 billion. The government is expected to contribute only 15 – 20 percent of the total, providing an enormous opportunity for private players to fill the gap. This report thus highlights the need fir skilled nurses. There is an acute shortage of nurses in the country, both in the government and private set ups. With the entry of private players in the healthcare system, nursing as a career looks very promising because there is no dearth of employment opportunities for skilled people. Recession has only partly affected the sector; that too abroad. Things are really looking up for the next 10 years there will be no shortage of employment opportunities.
A rewarding career awaits those who want to take up nursing in the armed forces. After graduating from the Armed Forces Medical College’s College of Nursing (please note that this college is only for women) nurses become Permanent Commission Nursing Officers in various armed forces healthcare facilities. Apart from a good package, they get a number of perks. They are gazzetted officers and can have a very distinguished career.
Male nurses too, are required in almost all healthcare centers. The job of male nurses is similar to female nurses. They are more useful in emergency care, post-operative duties and in the ICU.
Those who have a postgraduate degree can take up nursing services, go for teaching or join the hospital in administrative services. There area lot of opportunities for research in India too.
A fresher can join a healthcare facility as a Staff Nurse and with experience can move up to levels like Ward Sister, Assistant Nursing Superintendent, Nursing Superintendent and Director of Nursing Services.
There are opportunities galore for nurses in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Gulf. In addition to the parent hospital where they are employed they can also work in other hospitals.