By Shwetha E. George
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Nurses in Kerala, India, are pushing to change a system that leaves their newest graduates vulnerable to a training year fraught with exploitation by hospitals. "Overnight these graduates become the manual work force of the hospital," says one advocate.
KERALA, India (WOMENSENEWS)--Nurses here have begun speaking out against a "bonding" process they see as systematic exploitation by hospitals and a reason to leave the country.
"We swallow the abuse and break our backs doing tough 16-hour shifts just to obtain that one-year experience certificate from the hospital," says 27-year-old Tiju Mathew. "We do it because it's our only ticket to leave the country forever."
Most private nursing colleges are attached to a hospital where fresh graduates are required to work for a year, or 365 days, to gain practical experience and a "certificate of experience."
It sounds like a good arrangement, unless you are a nurse who has studied or suffered the down side.
"This is nothing short of a trap," says Beena Bhasan, president of Kerala Trained Nurses Association (East Zone) and principal of a private nursing college in central Kerala. "Overnight, these graduates become the manual-work force of the hospital. Their original certificates are withheld. If a student chooses to discontinue, she has to not just forego her experience certificate but pay the compensation amount, fixed at will by individual institutes."
One nurse from north Kerala said she worked for the mandatory one-year term after completing her course, only to be told that it was not a certificate of experience that she would be getting, but a certificate of internship. She had to work another full year to obtain the certificate of experience.
In her agreement, the hospital management said it would pay a salary stipulated by Calicut University, but in fact it paid one-quarter less.
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