No oversupply, high demand for Malaysian nurses

Bibi-Florina-nursePETALING JAYA: There is still a great demand for Malaysian nurses, both inside and outside the country, despite claims in the past that there is an oversupply of nurses, says Malaysia’s former Chief Nurse, Bibi Florina Abdullah.

Speaking to FMT, Bibi, who is now the Pro Chancellor for Lincoln University College (LUC) said the world today is an “oyster” for nurses, especially due to the shortage of nurses in developed countries with ageing populations.

“Some time ago, people used to say that there was an oversupply of nurses with a number of colleges offering nursing courses and that some graduates were having problems finding jobs.

“But this wasn’t due to a lack of jobs, rather many graduates only wanted nursing jobs in the government or didn’t want to step out of their comfort zones for jobs.”

Bibi, the former director of nursing with the health ministry, said younger people should consider nursing a viable career, due to the “great” demand for Malaysian nurses.

She said, Malaysian nurses are very marketable as the Nursing Board’s standards are holistic, complete and is accepted in every country in the world.

“We have over 3,000 Malaysian nurses working in Gulf countries, while we have fresh graduates from LUC, who come out with a diploma and secure nursing jobs in Singapore which pay them almost S$3,000 (RM9,300) a month.”

As for those in Malaysia, Bibi said fresh graduates with a nursing degree could earn RM2,000 a month to start with, be it in the public or private sector.

She added that in Malaysia, the ratio of nurses to the population is 1 in 300, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1 to 200.

Furthermore, she said, the growth of medical tourism in the country – which surpassed the RM1 billion mark last year – would see demand for nurses grow.

English proficiency

But Bibi said nursing graduates shouldn’t rely on their paper qualifications alone and instead adopt an “aggressive and bold” attitude to look for career opportunities outside the country.

“If you want to go overseas, and there are a lot of opportunities, then you have to make the effort to improve your mastery of different languages, especially English.”

She said that in Australia, a prospective nurse from outside the country would need to score 7.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

“At LUC, we prepare our nursing students for this through intensive English courses, but of course if they want to work in Gulf countries or Japan and Europe with ageing populations, then it will be beneficial to learn their languages.”

Bibi said nursing students could also consider furthering their studies after receiving their diplomas to become specialist nurses.

“The world needs nurses, and the demand for nurses and specialist nurses will only keep growing as time passes and this makes it a fantastic career option.”

It is estimated that there are almost 130,000 registered nurses in the country.

Established in 2002, LUC offers over 80 certificate, foundation, diploma, degree, master and doctorate courses covering 10 discplines including medicine, engineering, business and accounting, hospitality management, computing and networking, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and social sciences and humanities.

For more information on Lincoln University College, visit .