Says many of the courses are bogus

The Kerala Nurses and Midwives’ Council (KNMC) has stopped the registration of additional qualifications acquired by nurses — Post-Basic B.Sc. Nursing and M.Sc. Nursing — from nursing education institutions outside the State after finding that most of these ‘qualifications’ are earned through institutions running bogus courses. “The registration for additional nursing qualifications will be given only to those students who have acquired the degree/diploma from within Kerala.

The said decision was taken with the permission of the Indian Nursing Council (INC) after we raised concerns that we have no means of ascertaining the authenticity of these certificates,” KNMC registrar R. Latha said.

The KNMC has written to the Public Service Commission that it will give registration for additional nursing qualifications secured from within the State alone as many of the so-called courses run by institutions outside the State are illegal and unauthorised.

Students who had secured additional nursing qualifications from colleges outside Kerala could seek registration from the respective State Nursing Council to which the colleges were attached, she said.

However, they would not be able to put their higher qualifications to use in Kerala without the KNMC’s endorsement.

“We are aware that our decision will adversely affect a small section of nurses who have acquired higher qualifications by attending full-time genuine courses outside the State. But we are helpless because it is difficult to distinguish the genuine courses from the illegal part-time M.Sc. and Post-Basic courses as even some reputed colleges in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are doing this. The KNMC took a conscious decision not to endorse these courses because we are concerned about the erosion in the quality of the nursing profession in Kerala, apart from the grave issues of patient safety,” Prof. Latha said.

The GNM is a three-and-a half year diploma course, while B.Sc. Nursing is a four-year degree course.

Both are primary nursing qualifications, following which one can register as a nurse and work in a hospital. But only a B.Sc. Nursing degree holder can go on to do postgraduation and become a faculty member at a nursing college.

A GNM diploma holder will have to do a two-year Post-Basic course to be considered an equivalent of a B.Sc. Nursing degree holder.

“The Post-Basic qualification has become quite popular now as hospitals in the Gulf countries are seeking only candidates with a degree in Nursing and a GNM candidate is considered just an ‘assistant nurse’,” Prasanna Kumari, Deputy Director of Nursing Education, said.

The B.Sc. Nursing course, she said, had a tough syllabus, unlike that of the GNM. That was one reason why many students tried to get the basic nursing qualification of GNM first and then went on to do the Post-Basic course for better career prospects, she said.

The INC has clearly stated that the Post-Basic and the M.Sc. courses should be run as full-time, regular two-year courses, and only such regular courses will be granted recognition. These are courses that require the candidate to put in about 1,600 (Post-Basic) to 2,500 hours (M.Sc.) of practicals. “However, there are innumerable nursing colleges, primarily in Karnataka, which lure students to these higher courses with the assurance that they can continue to work in hospitals while doing the course, and that they need only appear for the examination.

Many nurses looking to go abroad for better prospects enrol for these courses, paying hefty fee, often not knowing that such part-time or non-attendance long-distance courses are bogus, and these qualifications are not recognised by the INC,” Dr. Prasanna Kumari said. Some of these institutions attracted candidates through advertisements placed in dailies or by engaging agents.

There were agents who even arranged for proxies to write the examinations and secure certificates if the candidate was working abroad. Of late, many instances of nurses producing certificates of higher qualification for registration when they were clearly working as full-time nurses in some hospitals during the course period mentioned in the certificate had come to the KNMC’s attention, Prof. Latha said. M.K. Thomas, who heads the Bangalore-based Association of Malayali Students Studying Outside Kerala and who has been fighting against these fraudulent practices and rackets run by nursing education institutions in Karnataka since 2008, said several thousand students attended these fake courses in Karnataka every year, a chunk of them from Kerala.