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Nursing and Nursing Education in India from Maria DiMarzio

At what levels can a person get a nursing degree in India?  

Nurses in India can pursue the same degree levels as nurses in the United States. Nurses can obtain a basic diploma degree, then achieve their BSN, Master's, or PhD in Nursing.

  • How many years of education does it take to complete each nursing degree level?

A diploma takes three years to accomplish, BSN takes another two years, Master's takes another two years, and a PhD takes five years after obtaining the BSN degree.

  • During what months do the institutes of higher education conduct classes?

From what I could obtain from the nurses, the universities hold classes during similar months of the year as we do in the U.S. However, they have many holidays due to Hindu and Muslim holidays throughout the year that close schools. Most universities hold two semesters per academic year.

  • What is the entry level required for practicing nursing in India? 

A nurse who completes three years of a government-certified nursing school and obtains a diploma degree can practice as a registered nurse in any hospital or community setting.

  • Is nursing licensure required?  If yes, how often must one renew her or his license?  If a license is required, what organization issues the renewal?  If a renewal of the license is required, what are the competency requirements?

Indian nurses have licenses through government registration numbers. They are required to renew their registration number through the government every five years. There is no competency requirements for renewal. However, nurses take educational courses twice weekly, consisting of reviewing case studies with signs and symptoms and presentations of patients. The nurses attend these courses by choice to strengthen their nursing assessment and judgment skills.

  • Is there an organization or group that oversees standards for nursing practice?

No. The government oversees the number of active nurses and nurses working full-time in hospitals, but there is no organization that makes sure standards of nursing practice are upheld at all times.

  • What is the average age of nurses in India?

The nurses in the hospital informed me that the average age of nurses in India is 35. Most nurses who work in the ED, ICU, and Medical Wards are younger than 30, but the midwives are older, more experienced nurses.

  • Where are the most common places in which nurses work?

Private hospitals are the most common places that nurses will work hard to obtain and sustain a full-time position. Nurses also work in public hospitals which are run by the government, but they usually have very poor working conditions, with a 40:1 nurse-to-patient ratio. Nurses can work as private midwives in certain communities and villages, as well as small health clinics and private doctor offices.

  • What are the specialty areas of nursing in India?

The specialty areas are the same as in the United States. However, there is a greater focus on nurse midwives instead of Ob-Gyn Mds, as well as the specialty area of diabetes due to the large percentage of diabetic patients in the Southern Indian population. Nurses obtain their training and experience through shadowing and hands-on practice in areas such as ICU, ED, and surgery.

  • What is the average beginning nurse salary in India?

 The average starting salary for a new nurse in India is 2,300 rupees (U.S. $46) per month.

  • What is the average experienced nurse salary in India (someone who has 10 years of experience as a nurse; please list the currency in which this amount is quoted)?

The average salary for a nurse in India with two years experience is 2,800 rupees (U.S. $59) per month, and 3,700 rupees (U.S. $78) for three years experience. Their salaries are then capped after 4-5 years of experience at 5,000 rupees (U.S. $106) per month. This is the maximum salary they will make for the rest of their nursing career.

  • What are the current issues and challenges related to nursing and what is being done to address each of these issues?

Salary and current wages are the largest issues facing nurses in India. The nurses at the hospital informed me that the salary difference between India and the U.S. has caused nurses to move to the U.S., creating an even larger nursing shortage than they are already experiencing. The nursing shortage is consistent with the issues facing the government hospitals, where they are unable to pay more nurses to care for the amount of patients that are present at the hospitals. This dilemma causes the 40:1 nurse-to-patient ratio, and the government needs to allocate more funds to hiring more nurses to assist with patient care in the public hospitals.

Another major issue facing nursing is that nurses are unable to afford higher education costs. Many nurses who work in the hospital desire and dream of obtaining a BSN or Master's, but they are simply unable to afford the university tuition. There are no government or community resources that provide financial aid assistance, so nurses borrow from local lenders or family members until they can pay them back. Nurses in India are also worried at this time because there are rumors of increasing the costs of tuition for diploma nursing from 18,000 rupees per year to 50,000 rupees per year, which would create an even larger gap in solving the nursing shortage.

If you have any questions for Maria, you may e-mail her at

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