Nurses recruited to offset shortage



Recruitment agencies are to hire hundreds of nurses in coming months after a surge in demand from new health care facilities caused a nationwide shortage.
Nurses are being recruited from countries including the Philippines, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and India to staff new medical centres as well as three hospitals opening this year in Sharjah, Fujairah and Ajman.
Dr Sanjiv Malik, the executive director at DM Healthcare Group in Dubai, said the expansion in health care required not only more workers, but workers with new skills.
"New hospitals are opening and there are new specialities coming up in the UAE," he said.
"Ten years ago, people used to travel overseas for treatment, but health care is becoming bigger and better here."
The recruitment drive complements efforts to woo Emiratis into the sector by combating perceptions of nursing being a low-wage, low-status job with limited career opportunities.
A forum will be held on Monday at the American Hospital in Dubai to outline a framework allowing nurses to pursue specialisities, such as paediatrics or geriatrics, that offer higher salaries and better career prospects.
The shortage of nurses is a "global phenomenon" that made hiring nurses extremely competitive, said Dr Malik.
"It exists in countries such as the US, England and even in India, with the majority of the nurses there leaving the country to work overseas."
In February, Al Qarain Healthcare Centre opened in Sharjah, with facilities including two dental clinics, a radiology and laboratory department and a pharmacy.
Five further medical facilities are being built in Sharjah, Ajman and Ras al Khaimah, which are expected to cost a total Dh1.25 billion, according to the ministry.

The UAE's medical recruitment drive will involve the hiring of more than 700 staff at the University Hospital - Sharjah, the emirate's first teaching hospital, which is due to open at the end of this month, according to sources at the hospital.
Peteromy Dominic Palacio, 28, who works as an HR co-ordinator at the hospital, said they were hiring nurses from the Philippines, the Indian subcontinent and Arab countries. Last year, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Manila approved the hospital's request to hire 70 nurses through a recruitment agency.
Edna Rance, a business development manager at Reach Consulting in Abu Dhabi, helped the hospital recruit 50 nurses from the Philippines in June last year. It was one of several recruitment projects she worked on for the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company and the federal Ministry of Health.
"Several new hospitals are opening in the UAE," she said. "This year, we expect to hire at least 200 nurses on behalf of our clients."

In January last year, her group helped the Ministry of Health hire 100 nurses from Jordan and 228 nurses from the Philippines for Masafi Hospital in Fujairah. A delegation from the Ministry of Health flew to both countries to conduct the licensing exam and interview applicants.
Private nursing companies also contribute to the demand for nurses. Al Hilal Nursing and Medical Services in Dubai said in February it planned to hire 200 nurses to add to its staff of 30 nurses and three physiotherapists. The company outsources nurses to schools and private clinics and provides home care to Emiratis and expatriates in Dubai. Half of the staff will be sent to schools, private clinics and homes. The rest will work at a private hospital in Dubai that is due to open in June.
Recruitment is only the first hurdle to overcome. In the UAE, nurses cannot be hired directly after passing their licensure exams. Employers must check their credentials, including their university degree and experience certificates, which can take up to six months.
"While it ensures the quality of nurses that are hired and that all their credentials are correct, it may lead to an artificial manpower shortage," Dr Malik said.
rruiz@thenational.ae
hkhalaf@thenational.ae
* With reporting by Mitya Underwood and Bana Qabbani

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