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Thu 14 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Training on tap, as Qatar funds foreign nurses

Qatar's health ministry is splashing its education budget on foreign nurses, in an effort to solve the country's nursing crisis.

Qatar's health ministry is splashing its education budget on foreign nurses, in an effort to solve the country's nursing crisis.

Qatar's government-owned Hamad Medical Corporation is funding expatriate nurses to complete post-diploma bachelor of nursing degrees at the University of Calgary, to plug a shortfall of Qatari candidates.

Fred Rosmanitz, director of student services at the University, said that 30% of sponsored students were Qataris, but that the majority originated from various parts of the Middle East and Asia. Nurses combine shifts at HMC facilities with paid time to complete their studies.

Those that sign up for the deal are asked to sign a contract, pledging to stay in Qatar's public sector for a minimum period of time.

"HMC has been sponsoring a lot of the students that are coming to the university and they have been giving them release time to take courses and they sponsor not just Qataris but other nurses that are not nationals," he explained. "Some nurses see that as a bit of a challenge as they are not sure if they want to do that," he said.

Set contracts will not address the root of the Middle East's nursing shortage, he added. The stratification of pay based on nationality and a negative perception of nursing in the community are driving poor staff retention, according to Rosmanitz.

"The state of Qatar obviously wants us to educate nurses that will want to work in this region, but if you raise the level of nursing and the salaries here then you are bound to attract people from other places.

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