Seha seeks more Emirati nurses

Of the 7,000 nurses working in Seha health centres across the country, only 1.6 per cent are Emirati.

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ABU DHABI // Of the 7,000 nurses working in Seha health centres across the country, only 1.6 per cent are Emirati.

At a workshop on Thursday for Seha’s nursing staff, Prof Ged Williams, a nursing and allied health consultant, said there were just 115 Emirati nurses.

“In allied services [health professionals other than doctors and nurses] there are 3,000 employees and only 12 per cent are UAE nationals,” he said. “One of our main objectives is to encourage more Emiratis to go into nursing and we are working with universities,” he said, to convince Emiratis to join the nursing field.

“We found that we needed more development to reach the Seha model level of care. We would also like to increase their scope of practice and think that nurses can do a lot more clinically,” he said.

The purpose of the meeting he said was to align Seha’s strategic 2021 plan and strategies with its nursing and allied health professionals. Seha’s main objective was to improve and upgrade the quality of services.

The level of services, he said, would now be measured and benchmarked through a new overseas programme with services offered in the United States and other countries.

This programme, he said, was already used, “but we believe that we could use it more actively. We will also focus a lot on retention and development”.

He said a challenge they faced was having a unified strategy that catered for all and having the right resources to deliver those services.

“There are 7,000 nurses and 3,000 allied staff working under Seha. We can’t always have everything we want but we try to pool the resources to be able to offer the required services.”

Emirati Safa Al Mustafa, chief nurse officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, said that while previously the image of being a nurse was not favourable, she had noticed a change in the attitudes and understanding of Emiratis towards joining nursing and allied services.

The nurse, who joined the field in 1999, said: “Over the past two or three years there has been a change in attitudes and more Emiratis are joining nursing.”

Ms Mustafa believed this was because of the Government’s focus on Emiratisation. Today she said, most deputy and chief nursing officers are Emiratis.

“Seha has been supporting Emiratisation and that has made a big change. Today we are confident and are ready to lead in nursing.”

The ideologies and image have changed. “ The idea that being a nurse is a low job or that you will never get married if you are a nurse, or issues [with] wearing the uniform – has all changed. Emiratis know that being a nurse is respectable, responsible and prestigious.”