By : Sabria Jawhar
AS a regular, if not daily, visitor to hospitals in Madina and Jeddah for my mother’s medical care, I have become more intimate than I care to admit about medical centers.
Though I have come across some well qualified nurses whom I consider life-savers in my mother’s treatment, I have also seen several other nurses whom I wouldn’t trust to treat the neighborhood dumpster cat.
Providing quality medical care is one of the many issues Saudi Arabia faces.I acknowledge that Filipino nurses are usually qualified and dedicated to the job, but does that mean we must continue to recruit Filipinos for nursing positions here? Recently, the Philippines government announced that 2,000 Filipinos will be recruited to work in Saudi Arabia. The applicants must be graduates in nursing.
Work experience, however, is not a requirement.Monthly salaries for these nurses range from SR 2,250 to SR4,000. They get all benefits like 45 days annual paid vacation with a round-trip air ticket to their home country, free transportation and free housing. This is fine for Filipinos, but not so for Saudi women. Even in 2008 a stigma that nursing is a less than noble profession remains in Saudi minds.
They still feel it is an embarrassment for Saudi women to treat and provide aid and comfort to the sick and afflicted.This was even more true 10 years ago. The idea of a Saudi woman entering the nursing profession was short of being scandalous. Today an estimated 35 percent of the nurses in Saudi Arabia are Saudi women. By contrast, in Kuwait - which is perceived as a progressive Arab nation - only 8 percent of the nurses are Kuwaiti women.Clearly, the perception in the last decade has changed and acceptance of Saudi women as nurses is now more prominent.
Over the last five years, the Saudi government has repeatedly stated its commitment to hire more Saudi female nurses to work in government and private hospitals. The Ministry of Health pledged to employ as many as 70,000 Saudi female nurses by 2010. Despite such announcements, recruitment of nurses from Philippines and other countries continues. Rather than training Saudi nurses, the government is hiring non-Saudis.
This doesn’t mean the Saudi government should embark on a Saudization program of placing unqualified workers in jobs. Such a program is bound to fail.Saudi female nurses have a reputation of not doing the job properly. Complaints of failing to show up to work on time, lacking proficiency in their work and refusing to treat male patients are quite common.
These selfish girls remind me of the female Muslim medical students in the United Kingdom who refused to wash up before a medical procedure because they are required to roll up their sleeves up to their elbows.Ridiculous. If one can’t abide by the rules of the profession and give 100 percent of what is required, then these women should do what they are best at: Stay at home or go to the mall to buy the latest Hermes purse or Chopard watch.
The nursing profession doesn’t need them.My guess is, there are plenty of Saudi women out there willing to provide care for the sick and eager to earn a good salary. Let’s not waste our precious labor resources by continuing to recruit expatriates, especially when we have enough qualified workers within our own borders.