Nurses an integral and indispensable to the health of the country


On the 12th of May, amidst the global celebration of International Nurses Day, the Ministry of Health along with other stakeholders orchestrated a commemorative event at the iconic clock tower in Thimphu.

Against the backdrop of the theme “Our Nurse, Our Future: The Economic Power of Care,” the assembly was an earnest tribute to the unparalleled contributions made by nurses to the very fabric of our nation’s healthcare system. It served as a poignant reminder of the vital role nurses play in ensuring the well-being of our society, emphasizing their significance not only in terms of providing care but also in driving economic growth through their dedicated service.

According to the World Health Organization’s discerning insights, the objective of this year’s International Nurse’s Day is to fervently advocate for and celebrate the remarkable achievements and contributions of nursing professionals, while concurrently emphasizing the imperative necessity to address and overcome the formidable challenges hindering optimal progress and advancement in the realm of nursing care.

The World Health Organization further emphasizes the pivotal significance of strategic investments in nursing education, training, and resources, elucidating how such meticulous attention to enhancing the stature and capabilities of nursing practitioners can yield transformative dividends in effectively addressing the multifaceted healthcare needs of communities worldwide, thereby fostering enduring societal well-being and resilience.

PM Tshering Tobgay who attended the function as the chief guest expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the nurses for their compassion and exemplary care which extend beyond their patients to include the attendants as well. He emphasized that our nurses are not just integral but indispensable to the health and vitality of Bhutan.

The PM further called for a united effort to enhance our healthcare system, reaffirming the critical role of nurses in nurturing a healthier Bhutan.

Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk extended his appreciation to the nurses in the country for their unwavering dedication, compassion, and selfless service to fellow Bhutanese.

Given the challenging times that the health sector is going through with the current exodus of health workers, the minister encouraged them to work harder and smarter by stating, “The ethos of nursing in particular and any health profession aligns seamlessly with our country’s values: The Dhamtshig and Layjudray, and there is no greater opportunity than now to showcase these inherent qualities that every Bhutanese health worker genuinely possesses.

The Bhutanese health sector is going through challenging times, and I am confident that every one of you will rise to the occasion to serve our King, Country, and People.”

Dorji Lethro, 32 hailing from Dungkar chiwog under Kurtoe Gewog, presently working in the adult ICU at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, expressed his concerns regarding the chronic shortage of nurses at the hospital. Having served there for nearly seven years, he highlighted the worsening situation exacerbated by modernization and the emergence of new diseases, resulting in a surge in the number of sick individuals requiring hospitalization.

According to Lethro, “Since I joined the services in JDWNRH in 2017, there has always been nurse shortage, and currently, the situation is even worse.” He lamented that despite the escalating demand for healthcare services, there has been no improvement in the number of nurses. Moreover, he pointed out the alarming rate of nurse burnout, aggravated by the trend of migration to other countries for employment opportunities.

Sonam Lhamo, a nurse from JDWNRH shared, “I have been working since 2014, starting as an assistant nurse after completing an 18-month certificate course. My batch assistant nurses are the last in Bhutan. Out of the 40 from my batch alone, 13 have left the job, with most of them in Australia and some pursuing higher studies privately. I am 35 years old and this July, I will have served 10 years in service. I spent almost 5 years in the medical ward before moving to the adult ICU.”

She also mentioned “While working as a nurse, I have encountered contrasting perceptions about our profession. Some claim we’re rude, which I refute personally. Conversely, others argue that as nurses, we inherently fulfill our dharma. However, it’s challenging to see it as such when we’re consistently perceived negatively, especially by patients’ families who are quick to challenge us. Sometimes, I hesitate to identify myself as a nurse due to the immediate assumption that we’ll be scolding them.”

A 30-year-old nurse Yeshi Wangmo Gomdhar Gewog under Samdrupjongkhar, currently works in the adult ICU. She obtained her degree from Bangalore’s Acharya College of Nursing and has been working at JDWNRH since 2020 after being selected for a contract position. Yeshi stated “Nursing is one of the most rewarding and challenging professions in healthcare. It offers the ability to truly make a difference in the lives of people who need help and often face difficult circumstances.”

She shared that “High patient ratio due to inadequate staffing leads to heavy workloads and burnout, compromising care quality and impacting mental well-being. Physically demanding tasks without breaks result in conditions like varicose veins. Shift challenges and 12-hour shifts exacerbate exhaustion and sleep deprivation. High infection and injury risks persist, worsened by staff shortages from migration. I aim to continue in Bhutan, advocating for regularizing contract nurses and investing in career opportunities for nursing advancement”.

The event also included a special recognition of nurses who have devoted over 30 dedicated years to selfless service.

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