Growing dissatisfaction among Iranian healthcare professionals is posing a serious threat to the country’s healthcare system, which is facing an increasingly pressing shortage of nurses.
For years, nurses in Iran have voiced their frustrations about overwhelming workloads, inadequate compensation and a shortage of employment opportunities, but their demands have largely remained unanswered.
The misallocation of resources by the government, including the recent hiring and deployment of officers to crack down on women not wearing the mandatory headscarf, has created a system that undervalues the crucial role played by nurses, contributing to their mass migration.
Nurses gathered in front of government buildings in cities across the country on November 19, which marked Nurses' Day in the country, to once again make their voices heard.
"No matter how much overtime we work, our income doesn't increase significantly because our demands remain unfulfilled,” a nurse from the western city of Khorramabad tells IranWire. “We haven't received our overtime pay for a year now. We've lost the motivation to go above and beyond."
Sahar Motalebi, a physician and health expert, describes the nursing system as a “tangled mess."
With approximately 200,000 nurses working in Iran, the nurse-to-patient ratio stands at 0.7, far below the international standard of 2.5, she says.
Meanwhile, approximately 20,000 trained nurses remain unemployed due to the government's financial constraints, which limit their ability to hire and retain medical staff.
The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the need to recruit at least 100,000 nurses to bring the country closer to the international standard.
Motalebi explains that nurses are often forced to work extra shifts to compensate for the shortage, yet they are not adequately compensated for their dedication.
This, coupled with weak work contracts, leads to burnout and pushes nurses out of the profession.
A vice president of the Nursing System Organization recently revealed that approximately 2,000 nurses leave the country every year.
Mohammad Ali Mohseni Bandpai, a member of the parliament's Health Commission, warned that the mass migration of nurses poses a significant threat to the country's healthcare system.
He urged the government to address the shortage of nurses, improve employment conditions, and consider additional financial incentives.