In ancient India, the medical care was provided only by doctors and physicians. Though Sushruta , the father of medicine had mentioned about nursing while describing few essential qualities of nurse , there has been no mention about female nurses in India till the mughal period. Nursing in India started and developed only after invasion by the British. The first nursing training school was sanctioned by the British government during 1854 in madras in the lying-in hospitals. Initially, a two- years’ course for nurses training was started at St Mary’s Hospital at Tantaran in Punjab. The recommendations of Bhor committee (1943-46) acted as the foundation for development of nursing services in India. In post-independence period, various committees were formed to study the position/situation of nursing profession in the country. Various changes were brought from time to time in education and service system as well as in the rules and regulations.
In the past, nursing profession was considered to be an occupation for Hindu windows and/or deserted women as a self supporting measure. Women from the christian community undertaking the nursing profession were more in number then the women from the other communities, since, as profession, nursing did not have a proper statues in the eyes of society.
After establishment of the INC (Indian Nurses Council), the most of the sates in India established their State Nursing Councils (SNC). The SNCs were responsible for maintaining the standard and uniformity in nursing.
Nursing profession, being entirely job-oriented, there is great demand for qualified nurses all over India. Since many corporate hospitals are being established and many more avenues like medical tourism, home nursing, industrial nursing etc. are available to better qualified and efficient nursing personal. Number of men entering this female dominated profession have been increasing in the last few years. It is clear indication of increased demand of nurses.
Standard of education and code of ethics is regulated by INC and SNC. The colleges and universities do play an important role in maintaining quality and standard of education.
However, in reality, nursing and midwifery profession is not honored as an autonomous body in spite of the fact that they are fully developed, quantitatively and qualitative. The service rendered by them to align patient do not receive proper recognition from other health professionals in the medical field and even by society at large. They are not accepted as leaders or administrators in their own field without assigning any justifiable reason for such lack of recognition for the nursing profession.
In the year to come, many changes are expected in national health policy regarding funding, education, specialization, creation of permanent nursing cadre, better salary structure etc. with respect to women empowerment the nurse are already empowered and they only need freedom to use their powers. There is great need for the society to recognize the rights and responsibilities’ of nurse and midwives and therefore they should insist for having only qualified nurses whenever they get admitted for medical treatment.
It is necessary that management of government and public sector hospitals should think on the line of administrators of cooperatives hospital and improve working and image of health services including efficient patient care rendered in the public hospital and improve working and image of health services in public sector is to maintain the INC prescribed nurse patient ratio at least to some extant in certain departments to give better service. If that is adopted by government hospitals, it would help the government-managed hospital to gain public confidence.
Adoptions of NABH accreditation shall certain improve the quality of nursing care, which will be more patient-oriented even in public sector and government hospitals. Proper and controlled use of information technology is playing wonderful role in raising their performance standard.
In future, the concept of a ‘nursing practitioner and research in nursing, need to be encouraged more along with evidence based nursing practice.
All the changes shall definitely give appropriate respect and position to nurse in the society, but would also bring financial stability to this noble profession of nursing.