Nursing moves toward greater professionalism in China

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On May 12, International Nurses Day, the National Health Commission released data and information on registered nurses in China. The total number of registered nurses reached 4.7 million, increasing by 45 percent compared to 2015.

The number of registered nurses per 1,000 people in China increased from 2.37 in 2015 to 3.35 in 2020. The doctor-to-nurse ratio raised from 1:1.07 to 1:1.15 in the last five years. More than 70 percent of nurses now hold a degree higher than associate degrees. There has been continuous improvement in nurses’ education level, professional capabilities, and nursing quality.

In recent years, more specialised nurses are active on the front-line and in nursing homes. They provide patients with high-quality medical care services with their specialised knowledge and skills.

In a nursing home in Xing County, Zhejiang Province, 16 nurses specialised in elderly medical care supplies for patients with specific diseases and disabilities. The training for the nurses is fully funded by the government.

Seventy-five-year-old senior citizen Xie Jialiang experienced a stroke last year, after which he could not control the left part of the body. Xie’s conditions improved visibly after a half-year’s physical therapy and care. “He used to walk in circles, but he is getting so much better. He can now walk straight,” said Ding Ning, a nurse from the care centre.

Aside from working at nursing homes, there has also been a growing number of specialised nurses in hospitals’ cancer units.

“Nurses at cancer hospitals mostly deal with critical patients. Those patients suffer from great psychological pressure. They sometimes refuse to receive treatment and even lose their temper. But our nurses always kindly guide the patients and boost their confidence for combating the diseases,” said Wang Zhenguo, the principal of a hospital.

In Sichuan Mianyang Central Hospital’s cancer unit, nurse Wu Fengdan recently gained a new title: cancer case manager. Her responsibility includes coordinating medical staff from different units and managing the patients through targeting treatment, personalised care, physical and mental health, and reasonable dietary plans. Wu coordinated nutritionists, therapists, and pharmacists to help a patient with pancreatic cancer gain four kilograms in half a month.

“The growth in number and capabilities of nurses is very rapid. Each year, around several hundred thousand to a million new nurses join the workforce. We can see from this trend that our policies on career development for nurses are a process of constant improvement,” said Jiao Yajun from the National Health Commission.