UAE: Veteran nurses discuss major challenges confronting industry

Experts highlight talent shortage due to factors such as lack of potential educators, high turnover rates, and an uneven distribution of the workforce

A shortage of nurses across the UAE amid the country’s booming health sector is like an unsaid call for more young professionals to join the frontline of care, according to a senior Emirati nurse. Ayesha Ali Ahmed Al Mahri, a nurse with over 25 years of service and former president of the Emirates Nursing Association, said nursing talent shortage persists due to various factors such as lack of potential educators, high turnover rates, and an uneven distribution of the workforce.

“When I started my role in leadership, my biggest task was to develop a strategy that’ll enable overcoming the shortage of nurses. It’s been an ongoing challenge. We want to retain nurses and are perpetually looking out for well-qualified and competent nurses. This is a problem that people are facing worldwide.

“The unique thing about healthcare professionals as compared to other professions is that from day one, from the time you pursue it academically it’s embedded in our minds and soul that this is a kind of a profession where you dedicate your life for others. It’s not about yourself, it’s about the patient,” said the group chief nursing officer at Burjeel Holdings. Al Mahri started her journey as a staff nurse after finishing her nursing course in 1997 in Kuwait hospital in Sharjah. For 12 years she continued working as a bedside nurse, serving in different specialities. Then she felt that building on her knowledge was imperative.

“That’s when I went for my bachelor’s degree in nursing and then for a master’s degree in healthcare management. I also did another master’s in health economics. Following this, I started getting into different leadership roles.”

She said identifying and encouraging specific nursing qualities would aid hospitals and healthcare systems in identifying strong nursing candidates for employment and recognising current nurses on staff who possess leadership potential.

“If you decide to take up nursing as a career, make sure that you have that passion because you are dealing with human lives. If you want to be successful in this profession, always try to upgrade your knowledge. Make sure you are abreast with what’s going on around you in the healthcare sector. One must be updated with recent certifications,” said Al Mahri.

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