To cope with acute shortage of nursing staff in the country’s hospitals, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has waived-off the mandatory requirement of PhD qualified faculty members in order to launch Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in colleges or universities. Earlier, it was compulsory for such institutions to have at least two PhD qualified faculty members specialized in the relevant field required for launch of MS/MPhil/equivalent degree programs. However, as per new policy guidelines of HEC available with Daily Times, the condition has been abolished provisionally to fill the deficiency of professional and qualified nurses in the country. Yet this exemption was granted till December 31, 2026. “Considering the limited number of PhD faculty in the field of Nursing, the National Curriculum Review Committee has recommended the minimum requirement of two MSN qualified faculty members having at least five years of professional experience for launch of MSN programs,” reads the policy guideline document. To obtain the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from relevant department of the HEC, however, asked as obligatory in this regard. It further added “tto provide opportunity of further education to nursing diploma holders and to address shortage of nursing faculty in the country, student intake in Post-RN BSN/Post-RN BSM is allowed till December 31, 2026.” The HEC prepared this policy in joint collaboration with the Curriculum Review Committee (NCRC) and Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC). A series of meetings and consultations among these authorities have been held to make end of some comprehensive and meticulous guidelines. In another landmark development, the HEC resolved the longstanding issue of equivalence through aforementioned policy. The Commission has been refusing from issuing equivalency certificates to such students of BSN and MSN who were not holding midwifery certificates/diplomas that was prior to the BSN and MSN. But now they are eligible to get equivalency as they would be bound to complete their midwifery course after their BSN and MSN educational degrees. As per sources, the HEC was refusing to issue equivalencies to such students because, as per prescribed criteria, it was mandatory to get midwifery certificate/diploma before admitting in BSN or MSN programs. The sources continued as saying that due to this issue a large number of old students were suffering for a long time. “It is welcoming development which would not only cause such students’ ease but also mend the longstanding litigation over this issue,” said an official of the PNC. Furthermore, as per new policy, the eligibility criteria for admission in four-year BSN shall be HSSC/equivalent (12 years of schooling) in pre-medical group with minimum 50 percent marks. The authorities kept sustaining the previous decision for ban on three-year nursing diploma offered after SSC/equivalent (10 years of schooling). Furthermore, students having qualified a three-year nursing diploma and one year midwifery / specialization diploma are allowed equivalent to 14 years of education irrespective of the sequence subject to passing of three compulsory subjects at 14 years of education. Separate transcripts issued by institutions for passing these subjects shall also be accepted by HEC for the purpose. The officials concerned say that the imitative would be helpful to enhance the strength of nurses in the country. According to the PNC Registrar Fozia Mushtaq currently Pakistan has only 90,000 qualified nurses to cater to over 232 million populations whereas the country has already a significant gap in doctor-patient ratio which eventually results suffering of patients in hospitals while, she explained, to enhance the strength of nurses is contemporary way out to cope with this overwhelming issue in medical sector. She stated that although the number of recognized nursing institutes in the country has significantly increased in the last few years, still there is ample room to improve this ratio. While talking to Daily Times, Fozia Mushtaq said that besides aforementioned strategic decisions, there is a dire need to develop a nursing educators’ course to enhance the nursing profession and build the capacity of nursing faculty.