Moving overseas a job remedy for nurses

Updated: 2013-05-13 07:29

By Wang Qingyun and Shan Juan (China Daily)

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Moving overseas a job remedy for nurses

Many give up their careers in China because of low pay and few benefits

Nurse Song Yan would have sought a job in another country if not for her family and child.

"I work at least nine hours a day and overtime from time to time, and get meager pay," said the veteran nurse who has practiced the profession for at least 20 years.

"The working environment here is noisy, crowded and sometimes even chaotic," said Song, a senior nurse at the chest surgery department of Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University in Beijing.

For young nurses, the work is even tougher. "They usually have to work extra to gain patients' trust," she noted.

Many simply give up.

In some big departments with about 100 nurses, about 10 quit each year because the job is so physically and mentally demanding.

Some, usually younger ones, who have good command of a foreign language, have begun to go abroad for a decently paid nursing job, she said. "I have a family and a child to take care of, otherwise I'd also like to go."

Countries like Singapore, Japan and Saudi Arabia have begun to tap other countries for competent nurses because they cannot produce enough of their own to meet needs.

Singapore's healthcare system is expected to recruit about 1,000 to 2,000 foreign nurses annually to meet rising demand for healthcare prompted by a rapidly ageing population and China has become an outsourcing site of rising importance.

According to Lou Qinghong, manager of the Sino-US International Nurse Training Company, Chinese nurses are "newcomers" compared with nurses from English speaking countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and India, which have been the first choices for international employers.

The agency based in Beijing helps train Chinese nurses for employers in other countries.

"Finding jobs abroad is becoming popular among Chinese nurses. Many nursing schools have opened English nursing courses, and many training agencies like us are promoting programs for Chinese nurses to work abroad," he said.

"Back when we started the business in 2005, we saw US employers come to Beijing to interview nurses and promise to help them and their family members get green cards as long as the nurse meets the qualifications to work there," Lou noted.

The frenzy declined after 2009, when the United States stopped issuing employment visas for foreign nurses whose academic qualifications were lower than a bachelor's degree, but Lou emphasized his agency's business is "stable" since the demand by hospitals in other countries such as Singapore and Saudi Arabia remains strong.

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