Historical, cultural and contemporary influences on the status of women in nursing in Saudi Arabia

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Miller-Rosser, K, Chapman, Y & Francis, K 2006, 'Historical, cultural and contemporary influences on the status of women in nursing in Saudi Arabia', Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, vol. 11, no. 3.

Article available on Open Access


Global nursing shortages have necessitated closer scrutiny of recruitment and retention initiatives of nurses both locally and internationally. For many decades the nursing workforce of Saudi Arabia has relied on international expatriates to be the backbone of the industry. In recent years however, Saudi women have been recruited into nursing preparation courses conducted at degree level. The many twists and turns of providing a local Saudi Arabian nursing workforce has paralleled Saudi's own history and this paper follows that journey. Our research has enabled us to provide some insights into nursing pre and post the enlightenment that accompanied the Prophet Mohammed's influence. We emphasize the influences of women leaders who emerged in Mohammed's time and bring lasting authority to the development of nursing in Saudi Arabia. The cultural issues that bind women in this society are explicated and related to recruitment and retention issues in nursing. Education matters, both past and present, are highlighted emphasizing the gains that nursing as a distinct occupation has made. Finally the paper concludes with a summation of contemporary achievements in Saudi Arabia moving nursing towards the much needed professional status and parity with other careers in health care.

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