Doctors outnumber nurses 2:1
The number of nurses is much lower than the demand, according to the estimations of the Order of Nurses. There are 7,000 nurses who provide direct care to patients out of 11,500.
The order’s estimations show that there are at least 17,000 doctors. “This means that for every nurse there are more than two doctors. The standard is that for each doctor there should be four nurses,” said Nuhad Dumit, Chief of the order.
There are over 12,000 hospital beds distributed across all regions. “These beds need 24,000 nurses, which means we need an additional 14,000 nurses,” she said. Each bed requires care by two nurses. Currently, one nurse looks after at least ten patients. “This is an unacceptable rate, because nurses are not being able to fulfill all the needs of patients, which would jeopardize their condition,” she said.
According to Dumit, one of the challenges facing the industry is some doctors and hospital administrations who are not giving enough authority to specialized nurses to practice what they have studied in universities and vocational schools. “If they were to do so, there is a chance that the risk of mortality would be reduced,” she said.
Better patient care means patients will not go back to the hospital, which would reduce hospital costs. “Some hospitals consider that the nurse is a cost instead of a saving,” she said.
Another challenge is the low number of graduates and competition from other specializations. Last year, 400 nurses graduated from universities and almost 1,000 from vocational institutions. The number will rise to 550 this year from universities. Dumit said: “Sadly, the number of nurses is not growing as fast as the growth in the number of hospital beds.” The number of graduates from vocational schools is much higher than from universities. There are 19 college programs and over 100 vocational institutions that teach nursing.
“The Lebanese University has been asked to add more branches in the north because they are not enough,” she said. Most of the nurses work in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, according to the order’s estimations. “The farther away you go from cities, the fewer the number of nurses becomes,” she said.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: May 13, 2016