HCMC to face severe nurse shortage

By Le Phuong   October 1, 2022 | 08:00 pm PT
HCMC to face severe nurse shortage
A nurse takes care of a patient at a hospital in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
A shortage of nurses looms at HCMC's public hospitals as fewer students are joining nursing courses at universities, health officials have warned.

This year Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine for instance only saw 781 students join the nursing course, a 66% decline from last year.

Tang Chi Thuong, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, said Thursday the shortage of nurses is worrisome, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vietnam's ratio of nurses to population is low at 11.4/10,000, according to the Ministry of Health.

The nurse to doctor ratio is also low, at only one to two or half the global average, the ministry added.

The shortage is increasing the workload for existing nurses especially with more and more of them quitting after the Covid-19 pandemic, threatening to affect the quality of care patients receive.

The heavy workload, high pressure at work and low pay are blamed for nurses quitting. Statistics show that 70% of the work in a hospital is done by nurses but they only earn VND7-8 million ($293.32-335.22) a month.

Nurses with only vocational training background, who are required to attain a college degree by 2025, are finding it difficult to go to college to improve their skills since the annual tuition costs VND35-40 million.

Medical authorities have urged the city government to introduce policies and mechanisms to improve nurses salaries and the health ministry to give current nurses until 2030 to gain college degrees.

They also asked that the ministry allows the city to recruit nurses with only vocation training background until 2026. A ministry regulation require health departments to recruit nurses with at least a college degree by 2021.

Tran Thi Chau, deputy head of the Vietnam Nurses Association, said there needs to be tuition support for students studying to become nurses.

HCMC has introduced certain measures to combat the shortage of nurses like raising salaries for medical workers and increasing the number of nurses at medical stations.

In the first half of this year 874 medical workers have quit in HCMC, including 200 doctors and 400 nurses. Last year the number was 1,154.

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