Indonesian nurses forging ahead


Indonesian nurse Robia Ah al Wadawiyah Manaff was on duty at a Chiba hospital when a visitor asked her to quickly get a nurse to help a patient who had fallen down.

Manaff handled the situation. But the episode may be indicative of persistent prejudice against foreign nurses in Japan.

Manaff, 29, and her Indonesian colleague, Maria Fransiska, 28, however, have apparently won patients’ hearts with their friendliness at Chiba Kashiwa Tanaka Hospital.

The two also appear to have gained the trust of their Japanese bosses for their nursing skills and dedication to their duties.

“Both of them had worked as professional nurses in their home country, so they have solid nursing skills,” said Yuko Hagiwara, deputy head of the nursing department. “Although there are differences in nursing between Japan and Indonesia, we can safely leave most jobs to them.”

Manaff and Fransiska came to Japan in 2008 after the country opened the way for Indonesians to work as nurses and nursing care workers to address the chronic shortage here of medical care staff.

The measure is part of the Japan-Indonesian economic partnership agreement that took effect in July 2008. Japan also accepts nurses from the Philippines under an EPA with Manila.

Over the past three years, more than 700 Indonesians and Filipinos took the national qualification examination for nurses, but only 19 have passed the test, including Manaff and Fransiska, who passed it on their third attempt.

The two are in charge of patients in the internal medicine ward. They can perform nursing duties, such as checking patients’ conditions, without support from the Japanese staff.

Most of the patients the two nurses take care of are elderly. “They are all gentle and warm,” said Manaff.

Fransiska draws encouragement while meeting with the patients. “They are all young in mind. Their desire to live is very strong. It is very impressive.” She said one patient even asked to be taught Indonesian, in order to keep an active mind.