Facts About Cambodia and Nursing


  • Cambodia is a poor country in Southeast Asia with 80% of 14.4 million people surviving as sustenance farmers. (Cambodian Ministry of Health [MoH], 2011)
  • Cambodian health remains the lowest in the Western Pacific Region and ranks 174th out of 190 countries. (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010).
  • Only 12% of Cambodian homes have electricity. (Dr Karen Reed/US Ambassador Todd, Interview, 2012)


Population: 14.9 million

Average Age: 23.3 years

Infant Mortality:

55 deaths/ 1,000 births

Maternal Mortality:

250/ 100,000

Life Expectancy: 62 years

(Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2012)


Countries in SE Asia Number Physicians/1000 people Number Nurses/1000 people
Cambodia .16/ 1,000 .61/ 1,000
Vietnam 1.22/1,000 1.01/ 1,000
Laos .27/1,000 .97/1,000

(Source: World Bank 2010


In 1979, after the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia there were only…

20 physicians

26 pharmacists

28 dentists

728 medical students

20 nurses


The Health System 1995 – Present


Level 1: Operational Districts Serving

100,000 – 200,000 pop Referral Hospital & Network of Health Centers

Level 2: Provincial Hospital & Provincial Health Department

Level 3: Ministry of Health, National Institutes, National Hospitals, National Programs, & Training Institutions

8 National Hospitals

73 Operational Districts

67 Referral Hospitals

823 Health Centers


There are 5 public nursing programs in Cambodia:

  • Technical School for Medical Care
  • Kampot RTC
  • Stung Treng RTC
  • Battambang RTC
  • Kampong Cham RTC


Cambodian Nursing Education System

Bachelor’s Degree – 4 years  (only TSMC)

Secondary Nurse- 3 years

Primary Nurse- 1 year

Secondary Nurse Midwife- 3 years

Primary Midwife- 1 year

Secondary Nurse/ Midwife- 3 + 1 (not Stung Treng RTC)

Secondary Nurse/Dental Nurse- 3 years (only Kampong Cham RTC)


Nursing Education

Nursing education must be presented with the local cultural, religious, economic, social environmental and political influences in mind (Murray, 2005).


Challenges in Teaching Nursing


No textbooks in Khmer (major language)

  • Textbooks are not available to students
  • English language lessons are not available to students in 4 of the 5 nursing programs.
  • Nursing programs are not internationally recognized due to limited quality and content.
  • WHO has a collaborative program with the University of the Philippines to create a “bridge program”. Piloted in TSMC.


Needs Moving Forward…


  • There is a need for Cambodian nurses to learn the leadership skills necessary to

foster the role of professional nursing in Cambodia’s health care system.

  • There is a need to expand the current nursing education options to include

BSN and graduate programs, with access to such programs either in- country

or via distance programs.


  • There is a tremendous need for masters prepared nurses to assist Cambodian nursing faculty in developing their educational delivery skill set and knowledge



  • There is an opportunity for nursing programs in developing nations to work together to foster nursing education/ health care in Cambodia.


(Reference: Dr Karen Reed; Nursing in Cambodia; 2014)