WITH the Covid-19 pandemic causing economic uncertainties and increasing the unemployment rate, school leavers need to choose a future-proof profession such as being a nurse.
At UOW Malaysia KDU, over 80% of all the nursing students are fully sponsored. Their education - plus three years' accommodation - is fully paid for. And they even get a monthly allowance of between RM500 and RM650 from the hospitals that sponsor them.
"Once they pass and become qualified nurses, their jobs will be waiting for them," said UOW Malaysia KDU's School of Nursing and Allied Health department head S Magesvari.
She said UOW Malaysia KDU has been producing qualified nurses since 2007 and possesses the experience to help private hospitals recruit school leavers with a passion for tending to those who are sick or in agony.
She shares valuable insights into the all-important recruitment interviews. The single-most important trait desired in a nursing student, she said, is empathy for those in need of care.
"If you see someone clutching his or her chest, have trouble breathing and then faint. What would you do?
"By listening to the interviewees' responses, we can gauge how deeply they feel about helping people.
"We might not expect them to know how to help a sudden cardiac arrest victim correctly, but we can judge their desire to help from that," said Magesvari.
It would be even better if the interviewees had joined St John Ambulance Malaysia or Malaysian Red Crescent Society at school.
Magesvari said she would also look for past experience in giving care, perhaps to the elderly in their families, such as grandparents.
"We also want to know if someone in their families had inspired them to consider being a nurse. Many times, applicants want to be nurses because they have a family member who is a nurse and saw how caring that person is," she added.
There are other aspects that Magesvari tries to look out for.
Since the sponsors pay RM55,215 for the successful applicants' education and accommodation, it would be natural to want applicants who want nothing more than to be nurses.
She added that the hospital sponsorship package includes the provision of a monthly allowance, which is banked in directly to the students' bank accounts by the sponsor-hospitals.
The diploma will take students three years to complete. They learn to handle everything from accidents and emergencies to community health nursing. They will even specialise in specific nursing procedures such as in critical care, midwifery, paediatric nursing, cancer patients and many more.
And it is not all theory.
Magesvari said all UOW Malaysia KDU's nursing students undergo clinical posting for general and specialised nursing in Penang Hospital.
Lecturers train the students how to do certain procedures according to the syllabus, for example, how to insert a feeding tube through a patient's nose.
After many hours of practice, the students then do it for patients at Penang Hospital under the supervision of clinical instructors. If the clinical instructors observe that certain students do not seem confident in doing a certain procedure, they will inform lecturers on the campus and when the students return, they practice again and again until they master the skills.
"It is all a matter of practice and experience," she said.
On the campus, nursing students sharpen their skills in three facilities: the mock community health clinic, the skills laboratory and the Nightingale Simulation Ward, which is named after Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing.
Magesvari said UOW Malaysia KDU's School of Nursing and Allied Health has a 100% passing rate - not a single nursing student there has ever failed the Nursing Board exams.
"Our alumni are now practicing in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Britain. Many of them have gone on to pursue their master's degree in nursing. Some have moved on to be clinical instructors and administrators," she said.
Mageswari added that nursing diploma holders of UOW Malaysia KDU have the privilege to earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree at University of Wollongong in Australia with a tuition fee reduction of up to 30%.
For more information, visit www.uowmkdu.edu.my/programme/diploma-in-nursing, or call 04-238 6368.