Indian Nursing Council’s recent proposal calls for allowing students from arts, humanities or commerce backgrounds to be eligible for the four-year B Sc Nursing course.

news Education Friday, February 14, 2020 - 11:11

The recent proposal of the Indian Nursing Council (INC) to open B Sc Nursing course for students from non-science backgrounds has met with strong opposition from nurses and nursing students’ associations in the country. 

It was recently that the Indian Nursing Council put out a proposal which states that the students who studied in arts, humanities or commerce background in class 12 can also apply for the four-year B Sc Nursing course, just like the science students. However, many say that this will adversely impact the quality of education, and the nurses who pass out of the courses.

The Indian Nursing Council, after publishing the draft proposal had given time from the stakeholders to raise their feedback about it till January 24, and the associations say that many have stated their objections.

“There is widespread resentment among the nursing community against this proposal, so we hope they take it back or else, we will be forced to take streets against the move,” said Dr Sona PS, Kerala state President of Trained Nurses Association of India.

Against eligibility of non-science students

Indian Nursing Council says that B Sc Nursing will be a four-year full-time program comprising eight semesters, which prepares a student to become a registered nurse qualified to practice in a variety of settings in either government or private healthcare settings. The proposal states that “candidates with Science/Arts/Humanities/Commerce who have passed the 12th Standard examination (10+2) and have obtained a minimum of 45% marks in the core/elective/academic subjects taken together and passed English individually” are eligible. 

“But what are the students going to learn if they do not possess the basic understanding about human anatomy and physiology which they learn during class 11 and 12? This proposal, if it comes into force will lower the standards of the nurses that pass out from the country. Even to get admission for a paramedical course, the student needs to have a science background. How can a professional nursing course, which requires an aptitude for the profession, allow a student coming from non-science background?” Dr D Manivannan, Tamil Nadu state secretary of Trained Nurses Association of India, questioned.

It is not just the nursing professionals who are opposing the proposal. Students point out that it's not feasible too, given that first year students will likely have to study, among other subjects, human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and microbiology.

“Even the students coming from science background struggle to clear these papers. We don’t understand what a student of humanities or commerce is going to do without even knowing the basics of these subjects,” said Arjun BP, Vice-President of Student Nurses Association’s Kerala chapter. 

There are also some issues with the structure of the course. Arjun adds that the semester system – that will replace the yearly system - will make it more difficult for students to cover their already tough syllabus. And Dr Sona points out that the new proposal has made the teacher-student ratio from one teacher for 10 students to one teacher per 15 students. 

‘Might be to attract more students’

The Indian Nursing Council had in 2019 decided to stop the diploma course in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) from 2021. According to experts, this diploma course was a popular nursing course because it cost less than B Sc Nursing. In some states, GNM was offered for students from non-science backgrounds also. 

“In the case of Kerala, at present, there is no shortage of students for B Sc Nursing -- the demand is in surplus in fact. But that is not the situation in many states in north India. So, we think this proposal of the Council to start the degree course for students of all streams is aimed to increase the student flow to B Sc,” Dr Sona said.  

She added that though many non-science students used to opt for GNM course, when they come to practice in Kerala, they will have to clear an exam of the Kerala Nursing Council, which most of them fail to. 

Backlash for brand name Kerala nurses

Kerala is one of the best states in the country in terms of healthcare facilities, and is known for its nursing community abroad as well. With the proposed criteria for entry to B Sc Nursing, it is feared that the quality nurses passing out will reduce, eventually reducing demand of nurses from Kerala.

“The nursing community from Kerala has a special reputation globally compared to nurses from other states in India. That is because of the quality of the professionals passing out from the state. But if this proposal allowing non-science students to study the course comes into effect, it will tarnish the image internationally. It will also impact the brand name of nursing communities from Kerala,” said Aneesh D, staff advisor of Kerala chapter of Students Nursing Association.