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Phasing Out Of Nursing Diploma Divides Opinion

Phasing Out Of Nursing Diploma Divides Opinion


NEW DELHI, 8 APRIL 2019: The Indian Nursing Council’s decision to phase out the General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) course that produces about 1.2 lakh nurses a year has polarised opinion with several nursing associations welcoming the move and many others expressing concern that it could lead to a shortage of nurses, especially in the least developed states.

 

The GNM course is a three-year diploma while BSc nursing is a four-year course. Starting 2021, there will only be the BSc course. Currently, the INC website lists 2,902 GNM nursing schools in India. According to a March 14 notification by the council, the last admission for GNM courses will be done in 2020.

 

The council stated that the government was phasing out GNM courses to ensure quality nursing education. It pointed out that globally countries were moving towards a single entry through a nursing degree programme and that the National Health Policy 2017 had also envisaged GNM training being phased out by 2022.

 

“A BSc degree course costs Rs 4-6 lakhs while a GNM course costs about Rs 1 lakh. BSc eligibility demands science in class 12 while GNM is open to those from non-science backgrounds too. That’s why lakhs of girls in rural areas in backward states are able to opt for GNM courses. But with this move, this opportunity will be lost to them,” pointed out an office bearer of an organisation running nursing colleges and schools.

 

On the other hand, Anita Pawar, president of the All India Government Nurses Federation, said the phasing out was a long-standing demand as GNM nurses doing the same work as BSc nurses were being exploited and given lower salaries. “If there is a shortage, how come thousands apply whenever the government advertises a few hundred posts? Medical services are becoming more complex. We need properly trained nurses for good patient care,” said Pawar.

 

“With BSc being made the basic qualification for employment in all central government institutions in 2017, states will soon follow. For a GNM to get upgraded to a BSc, they need three years’ work experience, plus a three-year course through distance learning or a two-year course in a regular nursing college. Five more years to get a degree just because their basic training was short by one year. That seems terribly unfair,” said Pawar.

 

“The complaints are from people running GNM courses who have a vested interest. Phasing out GNMs and stricter regulation of nursing education is the way forward,” said Ashok Kumar, general secretary of the Rajkiya Nurses Sangh in Lucknow. The council told TOI that all GNM schools will be converted into colleges giving BSc degree.

 

However, critics point out that the government was not counting the extra cost required to upgrade a nursing school into a college nor considering the need for more faculty in nursing colleges.

 

The administrator of a health facility in rural Chhattisgarh also pointed out that GNMs were more willing to work in remote areas than BScs. “The government phased out licensed medical practitioners (LMPs) and is now struggling to get doctors to serve in rural areas. It is even talking about bringing back an abridged medical course like LMP to provide doctors for rural areas. The same could end up happening in the nursing sector when the government finds that nursing degree holders refuse to work in rural areas,” warned the administrator.The Times Of India