Many countries are facing manpower shortages in recent times, most especially in the health sector. Due to globalization, it is now easy for these countries to make up for these shortages by recruiting workers from other countries. Nurses, in particular, are in very high demand in the Middle East, Canada and Western Europe.
Saudi Arabia is one of the more popular destinations of overseas recruitment of nurses. Among the countries which recruit nurses, Saudi Arabia nursing jobs are perhaps some of the most highly paid.
Images of vast sand dunes and extremely hot weather come to mind when one thinks of Saudi Arabia. Many nurses may be discouraged by this perception, along with the possible difficulties in adjusting to the culture and the Arabian way of life. Much hearsay has been said about working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, so it is very important that these are clarified for the uninitiated.
Although Saudi Arabia nursing jobs are some of the most lucrative, many people believe that nurses can earn up to US$50,000 per annum there. Unfortunately, that is an exaggeration. Nurses in Saudi Arabia may actually earn between US$23,000 to US$33,000 annually, usually paid in the local currency. Although the pay is not as high as the first figure, nurses here actually can save a lot of money as their salary is tax-free. However, that depends on the nurse’s country of origin. Aside from having a tax-free salary, nurses also usually get free accommodation, flights and most utility bills are paid for.
One huge concern for overseas nursing staff planning to work in Saudi is the adjustment to local culture, traditions and religion. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, which is known to have many restrictions with regards to what men and women can or cannot do.
The demand for male nurses, for example, is very limited. This is because men are not allowed to care for women and children without the supervision of a woman. There may be cases that male nurses are recruited for men’s wards. More often than not, however, women are preferable for the posts.
Women nurses who plan to work in Saudi Arabia are also worried that they may not be allowed walk freely by themselves. Women are not as restricted in movement as widely perceived by foreigners, so they may also leave their compounds to go shopping or socializing without an escort. Some people also believe that if the foreign female nurses are not covered from head to toe, they will lose their jobs. This is not necessarily true. Women are expected to be covered with a black, flowy material (also known as abaya) when in public and do not need to cover their faces.
Some people also believe that the female nurses should walk behind the men. This is only Saudi Arabian tradition, so Western or other foreign women are not expected to do this.
Despite the above restrictions, working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia can be an enriching experience that will definitely help one’s career in healthcare.