The Challenges of Nursing in South Africa
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
Unsurprisingly, the survey found that public-sector nurses were generally dissatisfied with their work, while the private-sector nurses were generally satisfied. Although neither groups were happy with their pay and career opportunities, the public-sector nurses were also unhappy about their workload and safety in the work environment – the biggest source of dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, a growing number of those who use the private system are either foreigners, people who have private insurance (usually through their employer), or those who are in the upper echelons of the socio-economic ladder. The public system is for everyone else – it serves 82 percent of the South African population. Due to funding not relative to the number of people the system serves, the public system is floundering.
The study authors wrote,
“The biggest difference in satisfaction levels was in the perceived levels of safety in the workplace–personal safety, risk of infection, risk of injury and the physical work environment…The emergence of deadly diseases such as extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) and HIV/AIDS, in the wake of the already burdened public health care system, probably contributes to the weakening of the safety of the nursing work environment.”
Similar Career Concerns Unite Nurses
Much of the dissatisfaction must sound familiar to North American nurses who have long complained about poor salaries, bad working conditions, safety issues, and limited career advancement opportunities.
But as alike as nurses are, in some parts of the world, the problems aren’t so easily fixed. From the pressure of violence, the fear of illness or death, and the lure of finding better opportunities abroad, being a nurse in South Africa can be more difficult than in other places around the world.