Enough has been said about nurses. Nigerian nurses have had enough promises and vow from leaders, and politicians, only to be ignored and avoided like the plague when it is time to fulfill these promises. Perhaps, I start by stating that nursing in Nigeria has deteriorated over the years, and our leaders have so watered down nurses’ voices. Nursing in Nigeria today is pathetic; nurses earn peanuts; they are not ranked; they suffer physical and emotional abuse from both their leaders, other healthcare professionals, and the government. What more would an average Nigerian nurse ask for in the year 2020 than reformation and good governance.

Here are a few points on how nursing leaders can reform nursing in Nigeria.

  • Reform Nursing Education

There are two pathways to the nursing profession in Nigeria. The university-based pathway and the hospital-based pathway. The hospital-based education is a three-year basic nursing program, where nurses are awarded a diploma in nursing and referred to as a registered nurse (RN). While the university-based pathway is a 5-years program that awards students with a Bachelor in Nursing Science degree. There are quite a few differences between these two pathways; hospital-based education is single-handedly regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, unlike the university-based education regulated by both the NMCN and the Nigeria University Council, and other regulatory bodies that regulate tertiary institutions such as federal universities. However, it is quite pathetic that these regulatory bodies do not properly recognize the hospital-based education. The hospital-based nursing education does not qualify as institutions, going by the National Policy on Education definition of tertiary education,

“The education has given after post-basic education in institutions such as universities, inter-universities centers such as Nigeria French Language Village, National Institute of Nigerian Languages, institutions such as Innovation Enterprise Institutions and colleges of Education, polytechnics and other specialized institutions such as agriculture, schools of health technology, and the National Teachers Institutes.”

Besides, the schools mentioned above are not regulated by any of Nigeria’s three regulatory bodies: the Nigerian University Council, National Board for Technical Education, and National Commission for College of Education (NCCE). In simpler terms, this means that the three-year hospital-based nursing program is not recognized as tertiary education in Nigeria in the context of this definition. It can be known as an essential professional program, as graduates are awarded a license. As a result of this educational level, registered nurses are placed in the same grade level as those with National Diploma holders. I believe that quality education is the bedrock of a great nursing, nursing council, and leaders should invest in nursing education, and encourage young nurses to get a degree in nursing, and postgraduate degree in nursing.

  • Embrace Evidence-Based Nursing and Effective Documentation

It is quite sad that nursing in Nigeria is way behind in practicing evidence-based nursing, compared to nursing in other countries. Moreover, Nigeria has few records about past events, past heroes. It is even sadder that this culture is being practiced in the wards and hospitals today.  Records and data should be taken. Events should be recorded, written, published. Evidence-based nursing (EBN) is an approach to making quality decisions and providing nursing care based upon personal clinical expertise in combination with the most current, relevant research available on the topic. Evidence-based practice is an important element in nursing. Research should be sponsored by the nursing and midwifery council of Nigeria; nurses should be funded to global events to educate them and improve. The only way to reform nursing in Nigeria is to embrace evidence-based nursing and research.

  • Effective Leadership

It is pathetic that older nurses still eat their young nurses in this century. Abuse is rampant in nursing; 1 in 5 nurses have experienced workplace bully and verbal abuse from patient relatives. Receiving jabs from a patient’s relative is draining enough, and, sadly, our leaders do not care about our emotional state. Leadership is far beyond making duty rosters, permitting days off, and fixing issues. It is about compassion, empathy, and the future of nursing. If Florence Nightingale had led younger nurses in her days this way, I bet nurses would never have successfully arrived in Nigeria. Good leaders see a problem and tackle it; they don’t boycott and pretend they are not affected by the profession’s plague.

  • Innovations

We need a lot of innovations and renovations in the nursing profession. It is 2020; nurses in advanced countries are taking a degree course in Nursing informatics. We need to embrace technology in Nursing. Nurses need to make use of Electronic Medical Records and interpret Electrograph; an average Nigerian nurse should be able to effortlessly use every equipment in the Intensive Care Unit regardless of their specifications. A progressive profession is always on the lookout to educate people on the newest innovations in the profession.

Sadly, nursing in Nigeria seems to be moving backwards; it is high time we started a future journey. Nurses need to be empowered, educated, and strengthened.

Reforming the nursing profession in Nigeria is a long haul; friends and enemies may be made, but the goal is to create a better nursing profession. Every young nurse’s goal should be to embrace the nobility of the profession, kick against brutality, speak when there is a need, fight for what is right, and support that which is good. Only that way can we reform nursing to that great, truthful, and noble profession we all have always dreamed of.

I encourage every nurse out there, whether young or old; this is the time to rise from your sleep and slumber. Nothing changes until you make a move.