News / Asia

Aging Nations Look to Vietnam to Fill Nursing Gap

Lucien Blanchard, general manager of the Vietnam-France Hospital, signs a form for a nurse outside the facility in capital city Hanoi, March 2003.
Lucien Blanchard, general manager of the Vietnam-France Hospital, signs a form for a nurse outside the facility in capital city Hanoi, March 2003.
Marianne Brown
Two countries with the world’s oldest populations, Japan and Germany, are training geriatric nurses in Vietnam to help fill critical health care gaps at home.
 
This month, 100 young Vietnamese are heading to Germany as part of a new project to train geriatric nurses for work in the European country. The trainees have just finished a six-month language and culture course in Hanoi, and they will spend the next two years in a vocational training program. If they pass the final exam, they can work in Germany as fully qualified geriatric nurses.

One of them, 24-year-old Huong Thi Thi, said she is excited about the move. “In Germany there is modern medicine and nursing. In Vietnam, particularly caring for the elderly, is very new. I want to come to Germany to gain more knowledge and experience in caring for the elderly.”
 
Germany is Europe’s biggest economy, but it is facing a demographic crisis as low birth rates combine with longer life spans. More than one fifth of the population is older than 65, and that percentage is expected to increase in the coming years.
 
Rising need

As a result, the number of elderly people needing care is expected to increase by more than a million in 2030, according to the German international development agency, GIZ.
 
Dominik Ziller, GIZ’s director of general migration, said, “We know we have a lack of qualified workforce in the health sector today, and we also know that in our aging German society the number of people who will need these caregivers and nurses and geriatric nurses will increase dramatically.”
 
By contrast, 60 per cent of Vietnam’s population was born after the war in 1975 and the country falls short of employing its entire potential workforce. Most children are expected to look after their parents, or parents-in-law at home when they get old.
 
The pilot project is not a quick-fix solution, and the project is still in the early stages so its success cannot be gauged yet, said Ziller. One potential problem, however, could be the language barrier.

“It’s more difficult for someone speaking Vietnamese to learn German than somebody speaking another European language with similar grammar. We know our young people who have undergone language training here will need additional language training,” he said.

Japan's aging population

It’s a problem that Japan, the fastest aging country in the world, also is facing when training foreign nurses. Later this year for the first time 150 Vietnamese candidates will go to the East Asian country for two year’s training at Japanese hospitals, after which they will sit for the national nursing exam.
 
Japan already trains nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia, but the system has come under criticism for being too strict. All applicants must take the same exam in Japanese, but it is very difficult for foreign candidates because of the language barrier, said Yoko Tsuruya, first secretary at the Japanese embassy in Hanoi.
 
She said foreign nationals are given some help, though, to complete the test. For example, they are given more time, and Japanese words are transliterated into international pronunciation.
 
To improve the training system, instead of continuing their language courses when they arrive in Japan, as nursing candidates from other countries currently do, the Vietnamese trainees will go straight to their hospital placement and combine language studies with practical experience.
 
Despite Japan’s rapidly aging population, admitting foreign workers for some industries remains controversial. Critics say foreign labor could lead to lower standards of work or increase unemployment.
 
However, there is little opposition to the intake of nurses.
 
Tsuruya said not many people have opportunities to pass the nursing exam, so the opposition against this kind of program is less than the opposition to labor.
 
Despite Vietnam’s youthful population, rapid urbanization has led to demographic changes of its own. Changing lifestyles means fewer people choose to look after their elderly parents at home. Trainee nurse Huong said that in the future, she thinks Vietnam will need more hospitals for the elderly, but said learning the skills abroad can help Vietnamese people develop this sector for themselves.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 11, 2013 1:59 AM
I do not think recruiting caregiver candidates from foreign contries works well to fill the gap of nursing the eldery. First and foremost, they could learn the skills how to care for the eldery but such skills are not enough to satisfy old people. What they need most is the communication with caregivers hopefully natives or relatives. As for foreign candidates, they would not rather live and work overseas forever. It is clear they leave Germany and Japan before long and the shortage of their nursing staff would continue. Nurses trainned in foreign countires would also come to notice that the obtainned skills would work only a little in their homelands. Original nursing staff and systems should be built in every countries fitting to their own traditional culture. Thank you.
In Response

by: Ulchi from: US
September 13, 2013 9:44 AM
Nursing old fokes is a very patient job with love giving care but not with a big pay check. American need those foreign workers as they used to hire Philippinas elementary school teachers to save school budget. German and Japanese found a solution in Vietnam.

by: J.J.Reyes from: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
September 10, 2013 12:00 PM
The current immigration policy won't allow for the entry of needed caregivers from developing nations. For Americans seeking affordable assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care facilities, the solution is to go overseas. A new business is outsourcing the elderly to Asia and countries south of the border.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More