Tradition, personal desire, family desires or an economic aspiration. Many factors are at play when choosing a university degree. But beyond technological advances and the search for other professions in the labor market, the most classic are still the favorites at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). And these preferences, in an area such as Health, can deepen a critical scenario, with many people wanting to be doctors, and few choosing nursing, when in reality four nursing professionals are needed for each doctor.
This week the UBA released the number of registrations for the 2022 Basic Entry Course in its different faculties. The three most chosen careers were the same as in the last five years: Medicine, with 10,082 entrants; Psychology, with 6862; and Advocacy, with 4,264. But going into detail, a fact emerges that goes unnoticed every year: of every ten entrants to Medicine, three go to Nursing, in which only 2,629 students signed up. And that gap grows even more if only those who follow a degree are taken into account. The reasons can range from the economic distance between the two professions to the aspirational and a symbolic imaginary that places medicine above.
In practice, the number of professionals between both activities is reduced, due to the fact that there are other ranks in the sector: Nursing assistants and technicians, although in the sector they aspire to strengthen the degree, still unknown to many people.
The latest data from the Federal Network of Records of Health Professionals from 2019 assert that there are 234,527 nurses, of whom only 37,524 (16%) have a bachelor’s degree. If only the technical and professional levels of Nursing are taken, the doctor-nurse ratio is 0.88: less than one nurse for each doctor, when the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend having four Nursing professionals for each doctor.
“Today, sustaining this relationship is something old. A few years ago, the health team was led by a doctor-nurse, but today it is multidisciplinary: social workers, health promoters, psychologists, mental health,” Daniel Godoy, a health doctor and member of the ATE Health Coordination, told Tiempo. National. The specialist agrees that there is a lack of nurses in the country, “but there is also a lack of other professionals who make up an interdisciplinary health team. What needs to be broken is the hegemonic medical model, and that paradigm where the only ‘important’ person in the health team is the doctor”. For Godoy, this hegemony is a construction and it was “very harmful” for the composition of the system: “nobody would think of putting a nurse as Minister of Health, even if she is trained. At the same time, it is harmful for the rest of the health workers who are paid much less and work at par.”
In June of last year, President Alberto Fernández presented the bill for the Promotion of Nursing Training and Development to encourage the training of professionals throughout the country. The change in composition of the Chamber of Deputies in December meant that the project had to be promoted again. “We aim that this law can be debated immediately,” the national deputy Mónica Fein, who chairs the Health Commission of the Lower House, tells Tiempo. “We must seek the greatest possible amount of consensus so that a strong and effective law is voted on.” Meanwhile, to promote studies in the sector, the Ministry of Education launched the Progresar Nursing program last year. The students receive a monthly payment that ranges from $6,400 for the first year to $10,700 for the fifth year.
In the City there is another factor that plays against the sector: its lack of recognition. Throughout the country, those who receive a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing are considered health professionals, but in CABA this does not happen. Law 6035, approved in 2018 by the Buenos Aires Legislature, does not recognize nursing graduates as professionals in the sector. “This non-recognition in the professional career represents 50% less salary. For Larreta we are administrative workers and not health professionals”, analyzes Christian Acosta, a graduate in Nursing and co-founder of the Nursing Workers Union (SITRE). Acosta works at the Ramos Mejía Hospital, and suffers daily from the lack of colleagues: “In the public hospitals of Buenos Aires we always had a shortage of nurses, and what they do to replace this shortage is to put very precarious Nursing modules where they pay the hour around 300 pesos. A colleague stays working an entire shift for that amount.” «