Nigeria Nursing : Time For Change

Help Save Our Private Hospital Nurses Who Aren't Working Presently

Few days ago, I stumbled on an internship advert by the university of port harcourt Teaching hospital with reference number UPTH/CS&T/240/VOL.I/25 and dated 23rd February, 2018 inviting interns pharmacists, physiotherapists, medical laboratory scientists, Dental Therapists and Dental Technologists for Internship. Nursing who happen to be the most populous workforce and the heart of healthcare was missing.
Barely a month ago, the management of the Federal Teaching hospital Igbobi released an advert of employment and graduate Nurses were to be placed on CONHESS 7 ( Ref: NO/011/17 ) alongside with health record officers and technicians.
Similarly, just few days back the management of Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital referred to Nurses as ” Sub-professionals ” and Nurses of the institution were seen staging a protest that they are professionals and not ” Sub-professionals”
From the instances above, one may say Nurses are not only addressed as technicians / sub-professionals, they are actually being treated as such. And so, we may need to ask, who did this to Nursing?
Are these deliberate actions to further bastardize the Nigeria Nursing profession or error of omission?

Nursing and Nursing education in Nigeria started off through a non – formalized, ad hoc institution to fill a vacuum ( Meet the hospital need for trained nurses and to generate additional funds for the hospital).
However, following the colonial inheritance of Nigeria, organized Nursing education has passed stages of getting people who were to recognize equipments (The galipot Nurses) and obey instructions of Doctors (The yes Doctor Nurses) to the ” Technical Nurses” that carry out routine tasks based on learnt procedures without thinking through. It has evolved over time transiting to become organized school based programe with curricula that produce professionals who are awarded certificates.
It is disheartening to note that despite this transition in the Nursing education, the role of nurses hasn’t changed, the placement at the civil service and renumeration remain unchanged. The major factor responsible for this is the dual route on entry into the nursing profession. (The university and the hospital based training).
The school of Nursing is an hospital based training without academic qualification in the Nigeria educational system, the 6-3-3-4 .while the university Nursing education perfectly fits into this system. Must the hospital based training without academic qualification take precedence over the university nursing education? This can only happen where mediocrity is been celebrated and that is exactly what we are seeing in nursing today. To ensure that this doesn’t continue, there should be a clear distinction between the university nursing education and the hospital based  education most importantly in terms of job description, entry point and renumeration.
The National Council on Establishment ( NCE) at its 39th meeting held in Niger state in July 2016 approved internship and proper placement of graduate nurses, till now, most hospitals hasn’t implemented these changes. Nurses must come together as one to ensure these are strictly implemented.
The mentality of nurses seeing ambitious colleagues as a threat must change. We are nurses and we must join hands together as one. We should start accepting the fact that every nurse should be properly placed based on the certifications and qualifications possessed.
A single qualified nurse should not expect the double qualified to be placed on the same level with hers,  also, the double qualified should not expect a colleague with a BNSc. to be placed on her level. Our BNSc. colleagues should see it as abnormal when the Nurses with a master degree are being placed on the same level with theirs. With this change of mentality, we shall be able to fight for a common course and progress will be inevitable. Progress is impossible without change and those who can not change their mindset can not change anything.
Nursing happens to have the highest number of professionals in the healthcare industry. This alone is enough weapon to fight our course. Have you wondered why we have suffered this long and no one is reckoning with us? It is the division among us. A house divided against itself shall not stand they say.
Nurses must begin to strive for academic excellence and not just certifications. We should be politically and academically savvy. Politics is power and until we take this power and use it to our advantage we can never be placed at par with other healthcare professionals.
Our approach, mindset and character to innovations must change. We must begin to take positive actions and not reactions.  We must begin to change from the ward room to the board room. Only us can change  our profession for the best, no one can do it for us and the time for that change is NOW!
Until the next edition, remain flexible to change.

Oluwatosin K. Odunayo
Editor in chief/ CEO,
Fellow Nurses Africa.

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