‘Indian nurses must improve their English’
rajatwal55 | April 13, 2009 at 03:56 amby
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Indian nurses continue to be in high demand not only in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />US and the Middle-East but also in the countries like New Zealand which promise a great support structure and an excellent lifestyle.
This was stated by Mr. Bruce Osborne, the Director of New Zealand’s Universal College of Learning (UCOL), during his recent India visit.
R.M.S. Atwal caught up with Mr. Obsborne during a New Zealande ducation fair in Ludhiana, Punjab, last week, organized by the New Zealand India Education Representatives (NZIER), a body of nine New Zealand High Commission approved Consultants in India.
Excerpts from the interview:
What are nursing opportunities for Indian students in your country, especially in your college (UCOL)?
First, I would explain the opportunities for school-leavers and then for those who already have a degree or diploma in nursing. Then I will explain the pathway to registration and employment in New Zealand.
Number one, a school-leaver who has done Plus Two with a Science stream would need a grade of 6.5 (overall) in IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Student can then undertake a three-year course in Bachelor of Nursing.
Number two, there is a one-year Academic upgrade programme for Indian Registered Nurses and this pathway is explained below. We realize that that when nurses are dealing with people in the health care system, especially the patients, their ability to communicate in English at a highly competent level is of the highest importance.
But some people (education consultants) here say it should be 7.0 bands overall for nurses. Would you clarify that?
This is true. But this is only for those who are already employed as nurses here in India. This is the number two opportunity for a study programme called the Bachelor of Nurses for Registered Nurses (RNBN) this is a one-year academic program with the entry level in English at 6.5 bands. Applicants for this programmed require a nursing registration certificate and a minimum of one year work experience plus the English of 6.5 IELTS. Then they are offered an Unconditional Offer of place into our program. During the RNBN course students upgrade themselves in English language studies to obtain an IELTS score of 7.0 in all four bands.
At the completion of the RNBN Degree programme and the accomplishment of obtaining 7.0 IELTS in English, students are then able to undertake the NZ’s competency assessment program of 6-8 weeks (a short course under hospital practice settings). This programme is testing of the nurses skills. Upon completion of this stint they can make a successful application to become a registered nurse in NZ and enter the workforce.
So, a registered nurse in India with a Registration Certificate, a GNM plus one year work experience after having obtained their Registration Certificate needs to have a minimum entry of 6.5 IELTS bands to be eligible to undertake a one-year academic upgrade program, and while doing the Academic programme they study further English to obtain an IELTS of 7.0 (each module). After these requirements are completed they can undertake a Competency Assistance program, and if passed, they can apply to the NZ Nursing Council for Registration to enter the workforce. UCOL has an employment agency which places every Indian nursing student graduate into the workforce.
Nursing in NZ is in a skills shortage area. All graduate nurses will be given a one year work visa. It is almost certain that they will get employment on completion of the registration process I have just outlined.
Please give me one good reason as to why an Indian nurse should opt for NZ when they are in much higher demand in the USon much better wages?
I believe, the US has some stringent entry requirements and whilst the NZ standards are also very high, at the moment it appears the pathway to PR in NZ is little bit more streamlined than it is for America, Canada, or even Britain. There is a world-wide shortage of qualified nurses and every nurse over here should make use of the opportunity. Indian nurses have good skills and with the addition of the Academic upgrade programmed they can help themselves in getting assimilated into the westernized Health Care system. That improves their problem-solving ability, increases computer literacy and research skills and gain a comprehensive understanding of the sound NZ work-based practice. This in turn helps them attain competency and confidence in the highly regarded and well-paid profession not only in NZ but in the entire world.
Did the world recession in any way affect the nursing students’ intake in your country and your college?
It is a very good question. At this point of time there is no evidence at all of recessionary trends. There is no negative impact for the demand of skills in the case of qualified nurses. At the same time there is no shortage of young graduate nurses but there is a significant shortage of skilled nurses in NZ in specialized areas. Qualified degree-holding nurses are much in demand. So, to that extent NZ is quite a desired destination at the moment. There are presently 60 Indian nurses at our institute (UCOL) upgrading themselves to an internationally recognized degree, that is, UCOL Bachelor of Nursing. So, they will get highly paid and respected jobs in NZ. At the same time we are aware that some nurses, after working in NZ for 3-4 years, do move to other countries like Australia, the UK or the US. So, for some nurses it a stepping stone to a future in another country, for others NZ is a desirable place to live and settle down. Also, while they are studying, they can bring their spouses on work-visa with a permission to work full-time.
As we see, other countries like the US, the UKand Australiaare tightening their immigration laws. Is New Zealandtoo thinking on the same lines?
Well, to my knowledge there’s no public announcement as such. To a large extent, NZ and Australia seemed to have weathered the recessionary storm quite well. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated that the banking system in NZ and Australia has been very robust, sound and transparent… the NZ Government is spending more on projects to maintain it economy. So, if they are qualified, the nurses are in demand. Since we have a shortage of nurses, I don’t think the immigration department will tighten the entry rules.
How about the security of Indian female nurses in New Zealand? Could you allay the fears of their parents?
New Zealand is one of the safest destinations of the world…we also have a code of practice—the pastoral care of International students. This body is looking after the interests of international students outside of the academic environment, thanks to the high quality education system. In the pastoral care we take care of the students’ orientation, health and welfare, looking after their banking and security, knowing where they are living in case of emergencies. So, we have a very secure support structure and specialized staff to take care of the needs of foreign students.
Do you have any message for migrant Indian nurses and students?
The only advice I would like to give to the Indian nurses is prior to applying to any nursing institution in New Zealand, they should improve their computer literacy and English language skills. They must try to take their English to the highest possible levels. That will make their education pathway easier. After all, they will be dealing with the doctors, patients and the local people over there. If they are not able to communicate well, they won’t be able to serve them well. Good luck!
(R.M.S. Atwal is a Ludhiana-based Freelance Journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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