Nursing in Malaysia is recognised as a distinct healthcare profession, alongside medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and allied health science. However, the noble vocation is accompanied by a hefty share of difficulties and misconceptions in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape.
A nurse is expected to care for a patient in their charge – this concerns self-care activities such as bathing, using the toilet or feeding. A nurse may be required to help a patient in movement and walking as well. There have been complaints in opposition to this –that nurses are shirking responsibilities – but the fact remains that nurses have an overflowing pile of work to attend to, especially in government hospitals.
Staffing is a grave issue facing nurses today – some nurses are required to look after more than their assigned patients at any given time. Inadequate staffing then greatly impacts nurses’ health and safety and further threatens patient care. An American review found strong evidence relating low nurse staffing levels to higher administration errors, missed nursing care and patient mortality. Apparently, for any one mishap or adverse situation, nurses will collectively face the blame. Inadequate staffing may also extend to trainee nurses, who are not assigned to hospitals that could use their skill, and instead work at fast-food chains or lounge at home.
On the other end, nurses that often work long or extended shifts risk fatigue or burnout that typically results in medical mistakes or patient dissatisfaction. A 2014 study backs this reasoning, as nurses who are impaired by sleepiness or fatigue are more likely than well-rested nurses to report negative outcomes in their care.
Furthermore, with increasing complexity in our hospitals/care centres and added technological advances, the poor nurses are forced to finish tasks not related to their job scope. The frequency of this occurrence impedes a nurse’s real work and amplifies patient/family dissatisfaction.
As competent nurses are important to an effective healthcare system, the nursing curriculum, therefore, needs to ensure that trainees/graduates are equipped to handle a demanding clinical setting. Their training is likely better delivered by qualified nursing heads in their respective disciplines, which could subsequently lessen the backlash received thus far and improve the nursing service.
Learning and maintaining professional nursing development requires shared expertise on top of quality education – nurses should be given their due appreciation and respect for navigating and persevering in Malaysia’s busy healthcare environment.