Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Nurses told to improve service

Dewi Santoso, Jakarta

Nurses were urged on Friday to upgrade their education and skills to so they would have early diagnosis expertise in a bid to improve medical services at hospitals and health clinics.

In the future, nurses should be professionals, who can make an early diagnosis and/or analysis for a patient instead of being merely assistants to the doctors, said Saint Carolus School of Health Science dean Murni Suliantoro.

Speaking at a seminar in Jakarta, she said most Indonesian nurses only served as doctors' assistants tasked with operational jobs such as injecting patients or moving them from one area to another.

"That's not what we want our nurses to be. They should be able to perform more than just operational procedures. Say, if there is a patient suffering from breathing problems, nurses should be able to analyze and diagnose the possible ailments that were causing the problem," said Murni.

In doing so, she said, nurses would then act more as doctors' partners.

"However, most of our nurses lack the capabilities to perform like that due to their poor skills and education," she said.

She explained that most nurses in the country only took nursing diploma courses, which were inadequate to support their professionalism as the program did not provide them with advanced medical skills such as analyzing a patient's medical history.

"In other countries, such as the United States, nurses sometimes hold doctoral degrees, which provide them with the knowledge and skills to carry out analytical tasks," Murni told The Jakarta Post.

Data from the Ministry of Health shows there were 10,333 nurses in 2003, most of whom graduated from three-year diploma programs.

At the Saint Carolus School of Health Science, approximately 120 students were enrolled annually to pursue a diploma degree.

"What we're trying to do is to encourage them to pursue a higher degree as it will help them learn more things that would advance their knowledge and competence in providing better health services," said Muni.

Sharing her view was Saint Carolus School of Health Science of Higher Education principal Sister Christophora, who said that nurses had to understand their crucial role in providing higher quality health services.

However, Murni admitted that it was hard to encourage students to apply for nursing as their major because the profession has a reputation for being "second-class" medical workers.

"Therefore, we've been trying to promote the profession among high school students by visiting schools and telling them how important the role of a good nurse is," she said.

The have recently visited schools such as Don Bosco High School in Pulo Mas, East Jakarta; Tarakanita 2 High School in Pulo Raya, South Jakarta; Pangudi Luhur High School in Kampung Sawah, East Jakarta; and Marsudilini High School in Bekasi, east of Jakarta.