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Keywords:

  • Nurses;
  • Nursing;
  • Profession;
  • Saudi Arabia;
  • Workforce

ALMALKI M., FITZGERALD G. & CLARK M. (2011) The nursing profession in Saudi Arabia: an overview. International Nursing Review58, 304–311

Aim:  The study aims to provide an overview of the nursing profession in Saudi Arabia, including its history, educational development, workforce and professional practice.

Background:  Saudi Arabia is faced with a chronic shortage of Saudi nurses, accompanied by high rates of turnover. Expatriate nurses form a large proportion of the nursing workforce in Saudi healthcare facilities, with Saudis comprising only 29.1% of the total nursing workforce. Despite the fact that the proportion of Saudi nurses is very low in general, this rate is lower in the private health sector where local nurses comprise only 4.1% of the total.

Methods:  Data relating to the nursing profession in Saudi Arabia were extracted from published literature identified through search of a range of publically available databases such as Medline, CINAHL, Google Scholar, Saudi health databases, Saudi health journals, government reports and relevant texts. Obtained information was evaluated for relevance and grouped on a thematic basis.

Conclusion:  The status of nursing in Saudi Arabia should be enhanced in order to make it a worthwhile career. The media should engage in helping to promote a positive image of the nursing profession. The education sector should reconsider the length of nursing training (5 years compared with 3 years in many developed countries) while maintaining competent and safe practice. Reducing the financial burden on the nursing student through provision of additional financial support would encourage more students. In particular, nurses should be paid a full salary during the intern year as currently occurs with medical students.