The Health Ministry to hire graduate nurses

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is working on creating vacancies at government hospitals to absorb the large number of unemployed graduate nurses.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said a special committee, led by Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, had been set up to find a solution to the issue.

“We are working on a programme to promote those who are already in the system and the vacancies can then be filled up by the graduates,” he said yesterday.

Liow pointed out that the proposed programme aimed to train the current crop of nurses to specialise in one of the many fields in government hospitals and in the process, create vacancies in lower-level positions.

In the long run, however, he said private institutions of higher learning would need to streamline their syllabus to match the demands of the local health industry.

Over the past week, The Star ran several reports highlighting the difficulty faced by nursing graduates from private institutes in finding jobs.

A government study found that over 54% of private nursing diploma graduates could not find work three to four months after graduating in 2010, compared to 21.7% in 2008.

Liow said the main factor leading to the surplus of nursing graduates was that private institutes appeared to not be in touch with the areas of expertise that were in demand.

He said the Government currently runs around 30 colleges, whose graduates are trained to meet the needs of public hospitals.

On the other hand, most of the estimated 70 private nursing colleges nationwide were providing general training and in many cases, did not meet private sector demand for specialised nurses.

“We are not looking at it as a surplus. We do need nurses, and so does the private sector because it is also expanding.

“This is mostly an issue of a mismatch between training and market demand. However, we do not control the numbers (of student intake) in private colleges.

“This is something we will have to work out with the Higher Education Ministry, and hopefully all of this (syllabus and market demand) will be streamlined,” he said.

Liow did not give a deadline for the committee to find a solution, saying that it had only just been formed and held its first meeting recently.