Nursing is among a few other professions, in which positions are occupied by women; the word or Nurse is now deemed to refer to a female and not to a male.
Egypt suffers a sever shortage in the number of nurses; the 1998 census showed that there are 17 nurses for each 10 thousand people, which is a relatively low ratio if compared to the international level. This shortage is more evident in the governorates of Upper Egypt. Best estimates show that the Governorate of Aswan alone would need 365 nurses each year for the next five years’. The need for a larger number of nurses is currently fulfilled by the nursing schools’ graduate students, originally resident in Aswan, and who count for 165 of the total number required; another hundred positions are filled by graduates from other governorates in the Delta and another 100 remain unoccupied. Going back to the academic nursing path, it was found that nursing schools do not even work with their full capacities.
This contradicting situation is the result of a number of social and institutional factors; in Upper Egypt, nurses have stated that the nursing profession has a bad reputation, because of the involvement of the nurse (female) and the doctor (male) on the one hand or the nurse and the patient on the other. In addition, newly-graduate nurses have to work in areas far from their homes. All of this contradicts with the traditional perceptions of the woman’s “Straightforwardness and honor”; this discourages parents from enrolling their daughters in nursing schools.
All of this has triggered actions to fill the gap created by the short number of nurses, in the form of capacity building for the nursing schools. The first step was to increase the percentage of enrollment of girls in nursing school, appointing new nursing teachers and ensuring that vacant positions will be permanently filled by the graduates of nursing school. From enrollment to appointment, students in nursing schools become the main factor in making a change; they will contribute to enhancing the technical, social and ethical standards of the profession. In addition to good education, the work conditions should also be improved to encourage more enrollments in nursing schools.
Hospitals also suffer shortage in the number of nursing supervisors, which is the mid level in the nursing hierarchy, as well as low supervision skills required for this level. This does not only, affect supervisory and managerial levels in hospitals, but also affects the quality and efficiency of work in the nursing schools. Moreover, lack of technical supervision by the nurse signifies that the person, to whom complaints from inefficient nursing services should be addressed, does not exist, which accordingly means poorer services and loss of confidence in the service.
The main goal of the project “Enhancement of the Nursing Career in Upper Egypt” is to increase the number of nurses and to improve the quality of the nursing services in hospitals, health units and nursing schools in the governorate of Aswan, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of nursing services provided to the public.
The Project objective is to enhance the image of the nursing career in Upper Egypt, through:
1. Improve nursing capabilities in the 6 nursing schools in Aswan.
2. Improve the quality of the nursing services provided in 9 of the hospitals and health centers in Aswan.
3. Change the negative attitudes and perceptions that prevail in the local community towards the nursing profession, through involving the community in seeking solutions for the issues pertaining to the nursing career in Egypt.
4. Create a core training team that comprises nursing from Aswan, to ensure the sustainability of the efforts aiming at enhancing the nursing sector in Aswan.
The project seems to have been very successful. It mostly exceeded its targets, in terms of the number of nurses trained, nursing teachers appointed, and nursing services upgraded in six nursing schools and nine hospitals and health centers in the Governorate of Aswan.
This seems to have been a well-conceived and efficiently run project with a clear time frame and precise goals. It also serves a very important need in Upper Egypt training health care providers. Although some may question whether the training of nurses is a modem or innovative project for women and development, in the context of Upper Egypt (or other cultural contexts where nationals do not go into the nursing profession in large numbers), it most certainly is. The project is also sustainable in that the nursing teachers will be teaching future cohorts of nurses.