Can one call a stranger, man or woman, as 'sister' or 'brother' and hand over the responsibility of his/her life to that stranger, even while being in a critical physical condition? The only option here is a nurse. While it is one of the most underrated and ridiculed professions in our country, the majority cannot even think of nursing as a career choice. Does the profession really deserve this amount of ignorance? Aren't there any clear opportunities nursing does hold as a career option?
"The major issue with the nursing profession in Bangladesh is the social point of view. When you notice that the people in society do not have much respect for this particular profession, when you find out that society has an unwritten rule that only lower-class people will come into this profession-- it's natural for you to lose interest," said Abdur Rahman, who has been in the nursing profession for two years and currently working in the Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar.
Mr Rahman is hopeful that this scenario will change gradually over the years and nursing students will no more feel inferiority. "They will come to this profession with self-confidence and will stand proudly in the service of humankind," he remarked with a hopeful tone.
The question remains, why nursing doesn't find appreciation in Bangladesh while names like Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, or Mother Teresa have become bright stars in the pages of history with their immortal contribution and sacrifice in the nursing profession?
Florence Nightingale travelled to Turkey to aid British soldiers during the Crimean War. Devastated by the poor conditions of both the facilities and the soldiers, Nightingale took things on herself to serve the soldiers and clean up the hospitals. Clara Barton is known as America's 'Angel of the Battlefield' for her service during the Civil War. And the name Mother Teresa does not even need introduction. Her Nobel prize winning talks volume about her devotion to serve people. And these names are just the brightest stars in a sky full of millions of stars dazzling with their sacrifice and dedication for the service of humankind.
Well, getting appreciated for noble service is good but not enough. Financial solvency and social dignity are equally important, believes Mr Rahman.
"If we talk about the reputed private hospitals of the country, the monthly salary of a nurse can be up to Tk 50,000-60,000. But the number of such hospitals is little, and in most cases, the monthly salary of nurses is limited to Tk 10,000 to 15,000 only. That could be another reason for the children of middle-class families to turn away from the nursing profession."
"I have been in the nursing profession for 23 years. When I was in high school, my two older sisters fell ill and were hospitalised for a long time. Then I used to go to the hospital regularly and noticed the nurses there. That white dress used to tempt me a lot. That's the point when I began to lean towards the nursing profession," shared Shamima Akter, senior staff nurse at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
Her happiness is in the patient's recovery. After all the hard work and struggles, a patient's smiling face is all it takes to be happy for a nurse.
"Often, there are some emergency cases and sometimes a minute here and there can cost a patient's life. When I think of those successful one-minute episodes at the end of the day, there can be nothing more satisfying than this," happily said the veteran nurse.
Shamima Akter expressed her hope that patients and their relatives will be more patient and cooperative to let them carry on their tasks properly. Doctors and nurses alike try their level best to save each life. Sometimes situations might get out of control as the patient's relatives blame and even attack the doctors and nurses responsible. Such instances are unexpected and unfortunate.
The question remains whether there are enough nurses in the country against the demand. If not, what is the reason behind it, and what is the way out? The primary solution is to increase the facilities available for nurses. Only if proper training, medical facilities and respectful social outlook are ensured, it will be possible to bring back interested and promising young faces to this noble profession.
The writer is currently studying English literature at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet.
Email: [email protected]