ISLAMABAD: While the country lacks around 90,000 nurses and President Dr Arif Alvi declaring 2020 as the nursing year, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has decided to merge the decades-old School of Nursing and the College of Nursing at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).
If implemented, the decision will not only reduce enrollment of students but would also lead to the merger of administrative posts.
A delegation of nurses on Saturday met Pims Executive Director Ansar Maxood at his office and asked him why the decision had been made without taking them into confidence. But the ED was not aware of the proposal.
NHS Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik told Dawn that the letter was sent to the Pims administration after a decision under which diploma courses would be abolished and only graduation courses would be pursued. However, he said it was a proposal and would be finalised after taking stakeholders on board.
The College of Nursing at Pims has been in existence since February 1987 and was initiated through cooperation between the Japanese and Pakistani governments with funds from Jica. Total covered area of the college is 70,000 square feet.
Govt wants to abolish diploma courses, secretary says
The College of Nursing imparts post-basis training in the specialised field of nursing with at least five years experience. The aim and objective of the college were to provide competent nurses, head nurses, clinical supervisors and nursing incharges in specialised nursing programme.
The School of Nursing was set up in September 1987. The basic general nursing training started in the college in October 1987 and school of midwifery in 1992. The total covered area of the school is 19,942 sq ft. The objectives of the school are to overcome shortage of nurses in the country, train nurses in specialised disciplines such as midwifery and improve the professional standard.
According to a letter of the ministry signed by Director Regulation Dr Sabeen Afzal (available with Dawn), Pims has School of Nursing and College of Nursing. The School of Nursing is located in the College of Medical Technology (CMT) (at Chak Shahzad) and is facing issues of faculty, infrastructure and equipment.
“This issue can easily be solved by merging the School of Nursing into the College of Nursing and the latter can easily accommodate an additional 50 students. Also by combining the two, the faculty requirement can be met. Staff nurses who do not meet faculty requirement can be adjusted in the hospital.
Another opportunity by this merger will be that the CMT will have space for expansion and may be upgraded to offer graduate programme,” it states.
“In view of above, ED Pims is requested to merge the School of Nursing into the college for efficient use of available resources,” the letter concludes.
A nurse of Pims, requesting not to be quoted, said though 2020 had been declared as the year of nursing coinciding with the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, a decision has been taken to reduce the budget of the nursing school and college.
“Currently, the school is offering four-year diploma programme and 50 nurses are passed out every year and 275 nurses are enrolled in the college. We fear that after merger this number would reduce. Moreover, nurses, who have got the diploma, would be told to do graduation or leave as it has been principally decided to phase out the diploma,” she said.
She said on Saturday some nurses met the Pims ED and discussed the issue with him but the ED was not aware of it.When contacted, Dr Maxood told
Dawn that though the merger of school and college was under consideration but he was not in a clear picture.
“However, I believe that the suggestion is premature and the ministry would take input from all stakeholders before taking such a decision,” he said.
NHS Secretary Dr Malik said it was just a proposal and will be implemented after taking all stakeholders on board.
“However, we have to move towards graduation in nursing as we are going to establish two nursing universities - King Hammad Nursing University and another with the cooperation of Turkey,” he said.
“It is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to establish more nursing colleges. We will offer graduation courses for diploma holders nurses of Pims and they would be allowed to get leaves for completion of graduation. However, even if they don’t want to do graduation, they would not be forced to quit,” he said.
According to international standards, there should be four nurses against one doctor but in Pakistan the number of nurses is even less than doctors.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020