The foreign ministrywill sign a MoU with the UK in the coming weeks to employ Bhutanese nurses
Given the perpetual unemployment issue in the country, the government is working to deploy nurses on a two-year deputation to Australia and the United Kingdom.
In the quest for providing employment opportunities, the cabinet in March this year directed Bhutan Medical Health Council (BMHC) to do away with the entry eligibility criterion of students from the science stream to pursue a diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) and extend opportunities to the students from arts and commerce.
Foreign minister Dr. TandiDorji said during the “Fridays for Health” event at the health ministry said that the foreign ministry will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK in the coming weeks to employ nurses.
“We have been requested by the UK, Australia, and Canada. They want to take in thousands of nurses. It is a very good deal,” Lyonpo said.
And he said nurses could go to the UK and come back with skills and experiences after working for three to five years. “We say all our nurses will have to be given an opportunity to go to the UK to go through the screening process,” he added.
However, Lyonpo said, those nurses who are studying in private institutions and not obligated to the government can continue to go. “They will work in the field, not in the current landing where they are working as sweepers and housekeeping,” he said, adding these are at the professional level and high in demand.
“Their starting salary will cross 2,000 pounds a month. These are all negotiated. Similarly, we would like to do the same with Canada and Australia,” he said.
According to the sources, 100 nurses will be deployed on a two-year deputation to the UK and Australia.
Lyonpo said the foreign ministry had requested the institutions to increase the intakes as jobs are guaranteed. “Dubai Health City has been talking with us and we have been in touch with them,” he said. “So if we can get our nurses through the screening process like in the UK, they can train all of our nurses.”
Explaining that nursing professionals are indispensable and are highly demanded abroad, the foreign minister said, the government requested the health ministry to remove the requirement of science background for young people wishing to join GNM diploma courses.
“There were some concerns about the quality of nursing education going down. But I genuinely feel that if our nurses 10 years ago with the same curriculum could do it, they should be able to do it,” Lyonpo said.
However, Lyonpo said those intending to pursue a bachelor’s degree, either a science background or diploma in health, are required. “People might worry about losing our nurses with this program but it is up to us how we set the protocol,” he said.
Talking about the virtuous decision of the cabinet to change the eligibility criteria, Lyonpo said the government is focusing on addressing youth unemployment. “Our young people should be trained as doctors, nurses, health professionals, Physiotherapists, and technicians and send them to work abroad,” he added.
Having worked as a doctor in many hospitals in the country, Lyonpo said that Bhutanese inherent character being Buddhist is compassionate empathy. “The care and skills of our nurses are truly amazing. And I feel that we have to create opportunities for them,” he said.
In addition, Lyonpo said the foreign ministry requested the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) to identify three types of nursing that are critical care nursing, mental health nursing, and old-age care nursing, and come up with a program of this nursing.
Meanwhile, sources say the government is also looking at the possibility of changing the eligibility for other diploma courses to open up like that of GNM.
However, to create fair competition with science background students, they are also working to explore the possibility of conducting foundational or bridging courses for the duration of three to 12 months regardless of their educational background before admission.