Arowolo Damilare is the founder of Beat NCDs Nigeria, a 500L Nursing student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, College of Health Sciences, Osogbo. In this interview with Fellow Nurses Africa, he shares his views on the future of Nigerian Nursing profession, the challenges and possible solutions. Enjoy…
FNA: Can we meet you sir?
Jonathan Arowolo: I am Arowolo Damilare Jonathan, a 500level Nursing student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, College of Health Sciences, Osogbo.
FNA: Why did you choose nursing?
Jonathan Arowolo: I often say that I didn’t choose Nursing but that “Nursing chose me.”
Reason being that, I never wanted Nursing and in fact, I have at several times despised the profession.
Thanks to God who orders the step of a man, I later decided to opt in for Nursing when I realized that my the desired course of study was not accredited and that year, no one will be admitted to study the course in my choice School.
I remember calling my Dad, who happens to be a Nurse, and he said to me, “Choose Nursing, and you won’t ever regret it.”
Those words liberated me. I went ahead to pick the change of course form and filled Nursing not just for the first but also the second choice. Voila! The list came out and I was admitted to study NURSING.
I must tell you, I have never regretted that decision till now.
FNA: I am happy you have never regretted your actions since you chose nursing.
What has nursing been for you, as a male student nurse?
Jonathan Arowolo: Interesting I must say.
A lot of people have a unilateral view of who Nurses are particularly in terms of gender but I am happy that I don’t follow the trend.
Being Male makes no difference I think because the value system that drives the profession is CARING and I don’t think Males are, for any reason, excluded from having a caring heart.
So, how do i feel as a male student Nurse? Cool!
FNA: You mentioned earlier that your dad, which I guess is your biological father is a nurse, and he told you to choose nursing.
How do you feel being the son of a nurse?
Jonathan Arowolo: Awesome!
My Dad is my senior colleague😀
I got my first and best nursing motivation from Him.
And particularly because he is a mental Health Nurse, I share my nursing school struggles with him and he so understands me every time.
I find it a rare privilege too because I am able to leverage on His network anytime I need to get some things pertaining to Nursing.
FNA: Wow. That is the importance of a father in a son’s life.
I am glad you enjoy nursing
Jonathan Arowolo: Thank you!
FNA: How has it been studying nursing in a university?
Most student in school of nursing, have the idea that universities student nurses are only filled with the knowledge and not the pratical.
What will you say to it?
Jonathan Arowolo: OK.
I wouldn’t want to say it’s true or not because I don’t think that assertion is a product of a scientific research or study.
And you know we are in the era of “evidenced based practice”. _Smiles_
But on a general note, I must say that I respect the products of schools of Nursing.
About University students having enough practical skills, I don’t think it’s totally true that we’re only focused on knowledge. We also have a well structured arrangement for clinical postings & laboratory demonstrations just like our fellows in the school of Nursing.
Yes! Some people might not show much efficiency in practise but I think that’s first of all due to the individual.
More so, you will agree with me that Nursing skills ain’t learnt in a day, no matter who you are. So, in a matter of time, the individual masters the skills.
That’s the beauty of the new preceptorship training for graduate Nurses- INTERNSHIP. Its meant to bridge the knowledge-practise gap.
FNA: Well said. What does your initiative BeatNCDs mean?
Jonathan Arowolo: OK.
BeatNCDs is a WHO global campaign to combat the rising rate of morbidity and mortality caused by non communicable diseases.
The NCDs stands for Non communicable diseases and they include Cardiovascular disorders, Cancers, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory Disorders.
Our work at Nigeria #BeatNCDs Campaign is to focus this global campaign in Nigeria and through every means possible, see to the accomplishment of the goal here in Nigeria.
It’s unfortunate that in Nigeria where we are still battling with communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, NCDs is becoming a huge burden to our health system. It’s really an impending epidemic
FNA: This is interesting.
What inspired you to start this initiative?
Jonathan Arowolo: During my first concentrated (as we call it in my school) clinical posting, I rotated the male medical ward and there I caught a serious burden.
Out of about 20 patients on the ward at that time, I realized that over half have one of DM or Hypertension or even both.
And as if that was not enough, two of my dad’s older siblings also came down with complications of Hypertension and now they’re gone to glory.
I began asking questions and searching for answers.
Long story cut short, in my 300l, I learnt about the Sustainable development goals particularly the third one focusing on health and wellness.
SDG-3 has one of its targets on NCDs and Mental health and so i decided to carve my niche around that.
Actually, the burden has refused to leave me even as I progress in school.
I keep seeing the possibility of solving this problems particularly with the wealth of knowledge imparted into us in school.
FNA: That is impressive.
You mentioned that BeatNCDs is a WHO global campaign?
Does it mean that you into partnership with WHO? Perhaps you should expatiate on that point
Jonathan Arowolo: Well, not a formal partnership.
The BeatNCDs Campaign is open for any individual to volunteer.
I am partnering with them to actualizing the vision but not a formal one.
FNA: What has been your challenge since the inception of the initiative?
Jonathan Arowolo: Yeah.
There are quite a few challenges.
Its never enough to have a passion to make a change, there are resources needed too.
That is one, a major one really.
Studying alongside running this initiative puts a lot of demand on me.
I have often thought within myself if its possible to continue but my everyday encounter with these problems never stop calling me to action.
In all, I always believe that we are stronger than our challenges and I don’t see any of these things holding us back from reaching our goals.
FNA: How have you been achieving your goals at the initiative?
Jonathan Arowolo: Yeah,
At the moment, we are focusing on addressing the NCDs issue amongst adolescents.
Reason is that most NCDs, though begins to manifest at adulthood, are usually due to behavioural risk factors that we imbibe at adolescent ages like Tobacco smoke, Alcohol intake, Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
We are doing this through our Project Safe Tomorrow.
The project is aimed at improving health literacy on NCDs amongst high school students.
We are using a peer education approach to that.
We are working generally on combatting tobacco smoking in public places. This is in partnership with another organization.
Tobacco smoke is actually a shared risk factor for the four major NCDs I highlighted earlier.
We have held rallies and paid advocacy visits to particular places to demand of them to make their environment smoke free with positive outcomes.
These are some of our most recent and current works.
FNA: I am amazed at your growth as a student nurse level
Jonathan Arowolo: Thank you.
FNA: You are doing wonderfully well at your level, and I am amazed. Most student nurses complain of no time, tight schedules and so many excuses, whether genuine or not genuine.
I will like you to share how student nurses can develop themselves beyond nursing school.
Jonathan Arowolo: Well,
Let’s begin with the WHY before the HOW.
The WHY is to define the purpose and of which except this is known, abuse is prone.
One major reason why I think we need to develop ourselves is because of the *demand the world is placing on Nurses*
Student Nurses are the emerging leaders in the health space that will overhaul the profession and health sector of Nigeria.
I think the existing curriculum is mainly structured to build Nurses to fit into the existing platforms. However, the pressing health demands and diseases burden requires that we don’t just do things as usual but with new innovations and ideas to solving these problems.
Education basically is never limited to the school curriculum, its beyond the mere absorption of facts and figures.
Now, let me talk a brief on the HOW.
1. Discover your area of interest/ passion.
The subject of personal development isn’t just what one jumps into or does haphazardly, you have to be directed and focused for it to yield any result.
Also because developing oneself will be very demanding, doing what you are not passionate about will only lead to frustration.
2. Start the process of development with the available resources.
It will surprise you that I get a lot of ideas from our conventional nursing texts.
I actually study with a mental picture of implementation. Therefore, I see many things that I don’t find currently existing in Nigeria and that really gets me to study extensively.
We all know by now that readers are leaders. We only stand out based on What we know.
But now I mean reading outside our school course work.
Using the internet, we can really expand our horizon.
Explore through YouTube and read blogs…
I am particularly a lover of Ted talks. I listen to talks on health, Nursing, Medicine, youth, Africa and so on.
4. BUILD MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS.
Through the social media platforms, we can meet people within and outside Nursing who are doing Amazing things and making social change, connect with them and share stuff.
Social Media is gone beyond a fun centre where we just post pictures and rejoice over likes and shares.
I can testify to that in my own journey.
Also, I think we need to re orient ourselves on something.
I am sorry but I think most of the things that some of us Nurses celebrate ourselves for are too ephemeral.
Its good to celebrate beauty but that makes little or no difference.
The very crux of our role is to meet the health demands of the Nigerian populace. We can do more of challenging ourselves to developing solution to the myriads of health problems around us.
5. Sequel to my first point, we need to start embracing the art of attending conferences, seminars, webinars, workshops even as students.
I see this deficit in most of my colleagues.
Some don’t think its necessary because its not the fun party thing while others think they are too busy but in all, I think it will surely add something to you even beyond the certificate you get sometimes.
Let me stop here for now.🤗
FNA: If you have the opportunity to correct any thing pertaining to nursing in Nigeria, what will that be?
Jonathan Arowolo: Hmm.
I am just growing. I still know very little.
I think our leaders, particularly in Nursing, are doing a lot. Leadership is challenging I tell you.
However, I am convinced that things can always get better.
I think the federal government of Nigeria can do better in investing in NURSING.
Like I once said, Smart Nations invest in Nurses.
At present, the political will to the demands of Nursing in Nigeria is very minimal.
Nursing Education can advance much more than this.
We can have Nurses play out more independent roles in the clinical area.
The Nursing academia to me is limiting,
I would really love that we move our post basic Nursing school to post graduate schools.
That’s how we can truly birth professionalism in NURSING.
But its quite challenging. The quest to move schools of Nursing to the university is still not fully implemented yet and that’s why I said POLITICAL WILL matters a lot.
FNA: How do you see nursing in Nigeria in 5 years time?
Jonathan Arowolo: I think “the future of Nursing is really bright”.
Despite the many challenges, I still see hundreds of students apply for Nursing.
I am convinced that in the next five years as we will have more degree holders in NURSING,
Nursing will have a much better recognition in the health sector.
I personally hope to see Nurses take over the primary health system and revitalize it.
I think that’s where our expertise is most needed now
FNA: How do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Jonathan Arowolo: In five years time by God’s grace,
I will be actively involved in the fulfilling of my “call to Nurse”
FNA: What is your biggest motivation?
Jonathan Arowolo: My biggest motivation is the ultimate sense of purpose.
I am an astute believer in Christ and I know i have something to contribute to the betterment of this world.
My sleeping & waking thought always is, *I want to die empty*
And so, I am ready for service to God and humanity always.
FNA: How do you see your initiative, BeatNCDs in the next 5 years?
Jonathan Arowolo: The Nigeria #BeatNCDs Campaign by God’s grace will be embarking on major landmark projects that will make a revolutionary mark in the indices of death and disabilities occurring due to NCDs.
We hope to have our NCDs Peer education programme well established in high schools around Nigeria.
We are currently compiling a handbook on NCDs which is to be used by our trained peer educators to teach their colleagues.
We also hope to start to solve problem around early detection of NCDs through a strategically positioned check up clinic that will reach out to the grassroot population and at affordable costs, help detect these NCDs.
We are simply working per time as clarity of vision comes with progress.
FNA: What can you advise other nursing students in Nigeria?
Jonathan Arowolo: Don’t judge your future in Nursing by the current realities of Nursing.
Re define for yourself what you want to make out of Nursing.
There is more to Nursing than you can ever imagine right now.
Its simply unfolding by the day.
FNA: Thank you so much for your time Jonathan Arowolo.
I am so sure that your story will motivate enough nursing students who do not have the glimpse of what nursing really is.
Jonathan Arowolo: *ON A FINAL NOTE*
Thank you Fellow Nurses Africa for the privilege to be featured on your platform.
I appreciate your effort to rebranding the image of Nursing Nigeria.
God bless you.
I must not fail to acknowledge my mentors/ models in the Fellowship of Christian Nurses (FCN) Southwest Zone. In fact, FCN has been a safe haven for my weary soul ever since I began journeying through Nursing.
I pray God to bless them all. AMEN.