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Tribune: Docs lacking, nurses to fill gap in villages

New courses approved by Union health ministry for Bsc Nursing /GNM graduates.

1. “Nurse Practitioner Critical Care”
2. “Nurse Practitioner Primary”

New Delhi, February 14:
Nowhere near finalising the much-awaited move of mandatory rural posting for MBBS doctors, the government has decided to create a specialist nurses cadre to fill health service delivery gaps in villages.
The Union Health Ministry has finalised two new special courses which practising and future nurses can take in order to improve career prospects in both primary healthcare and critical health service delivery.
The two-year courses are expected to be rolled out from this September when the fresh academic session for nursing courses begins.
The first course, “Nurse Practitioner Critical Care”, has already been approved by the Health Secretary and will be available to BSc Nursing graduates and GNMs (General Nursing and Midwifery) course holders from September.
“This new PG course will equip nurses with skills needed to work in critical healthcare situations. The course approved by the Indian Nursing Council will prepare takers in 12 critical care sectors. The framework has been approved and is ready to be rolled out this year. The course will fill existing gaps in ICU and CCU delivery sectors, besides giving nurses new career and income opportunities," a Health Ministry official said.
The second course, “Nurse Practitioner Primary”, is in final stages of approval and will prepare nurses to offer preventive and promotive healthcare at the level of sub centres and primary health centres where doctors are not available. "BSc Nursing graduates and GNMs can take this course and help us fill doctor shortages immediately. They will be trained in preventive and other early diagnosis and management areas so as to use the existing pool of skilled nurses to widen healthcare service delivery base in rural areas," an official said.
At present, the country has around 7.5 lakh registered MBBS doctors as against 26 lakh nurses. “The solution to rural postings is placing trained and highly skilled nurses where there are gaps. We will soon be writing to all state governments about the availability of these two new nursing courses for states to offer the same through government colleges. To start with, we will offer these courses in all Union Government institutions. Private colleges will be free to offer these courses once they are notified after final approvals," a government official said. The government has long been struggling with mandating rural posting for MBBS doctors, a move the Indian Medical Association is resisting.

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