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Published by Afterschool.my on Oct 10, 2016, 02:00 pm
Despite being highly qualified with degrees, nurses are not receiving adequate compensation.
The struggle is real as nurses seek to earn salaries that correspond adequately to the level of education they have obtained. According to Associate Professor Dr Zabidah Putit, the Head of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak's (Unimas) Nursing Department, fresh graduate degree holding nurses earn as much as their diploma holding counterparts.
The contention has to do with the argument that nurses are not given the level of importance that doctors and engineers get. Fresh graduates from both of these fields earn salaries that reasonably reflect their educational qualification. Nurses with degrees, on the other hand, get paid a salary that is less than RM2,000 per month, without accounting for allowances.
Dr Zabidah said qualified nurses leave their posts here in Malaysia and decide to work abroad. Countries like Singapore, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia pay salaries that attract talent in the field of nursing. The current exchange rates of the ringgit is another contributing factor to this situation. Singapore is home to more than 50% of Malaysian qualified nurses.
She also seems to disagree with claims that suggest an oversupply of nurses in Malaysia during the past few years. She said the ratio of nurses to population is 1:200, which is acceptable.
In fact, according to a research published by The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing in 2007, the mandatory nurse-to-patient staffing ratios is determined to be 1:4 in all hospitals. This is the ideal situation, but it might vary depending on the country and the population centres. However, the result of the study seems to be verified by other researchers.
“Quality nurses are still in short of supply in Malaysia and we need to move forward. Even developing countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are ahead of us in this regard as their nurses are degree holders. It has been like this for 100 years in Thailand,” she said referring to the fact that most of the population of nurses in Malaysia are diploma holders. Interestingly, nurses who hold a degree from public universities in Malaysia are considered an asset sought after by health services providers overseas. In a country like Saudi Arabia, Malaysian nurses are paid between RM7,000 and RM8,000 a month.
One of the many reasons why Malaysian nurses are highly qualified is due to the numerous regulations and rules set by the ministry of health's nursing division. The division particularly and the ministry as a whole, require higher learning institutions to be verified and recognised by the authority in order to provide education and training to nursing students. Examination units are also regulated and standardised by the ministry of health. Furthermore, the ministry requires nurses to seek professional development through earning points via experience and training which would facilitate promotions and career development. Is it any wonder Malaysian nurses are highly valued abroad?