Meditating on what my first post on this blog would be, I couldn’t think of any other topic to start with than my beloved profession-Nursing.
Many are the articles being published on a daily basis about Nursing and Nurses. The contents of some of these articles are true, some - false, some - derogatory, some - educating, some - inspiring, some - challenging and many are full of hypocrisies (especially from members of the profession).
With the little experience I've had as a Registered Nurse in the private sector, I've had the privilege of meeting and interacting with several people within and outside the profession, and as expected, opinion differs on what "Nursing" means to individuals. Even among the 'professionals', there's no such thing as common ground with regards to what Nursing really means and stands for. So many were coerced into the profession, and others bought their ways into it while many became nurses because of the ‘lucrative’ tag it carries. Whichever way, we are in the profession for different reasons and through different means. But the profession is a goal-oriented one.
For me, I became a Student nurse by persuasion, and I decided to be a professional by conviction, that even when opportunity came to desert nursing for other things, I resisted such with determination, with the help of some guidance from senior colleagues and others.
As a student nurse, Nursing changed a lot of things about me - my lifestyle and character was altered rather too soon. Having spent a couple of years in a conventional tertiary institution as an engineering student, and graduating among the best 5 students in my class with such little effort, I expected a rollercoaster ride in my new found profession. But I was quickly challenged (by demands) that such could not be the case here. The days of missing lectures repeatedly was put behind and effective time management became a priority as much as a challenge. But alas I made it through the rigorous training was launched into the profession proper.
Here am I as a Registered Nurse in a country in which Nursing is plagued with very many challenges in terms of education, career progression/advancement, public perception, technology, inter and intra professional conflicts and indeed adherence to the tenets and ethics of professionalism among others. For many years, the policy makers in the profession seems to be comfortable with this degrading situation thereby yielding the esteemed profession to ridicule from other members of the healthcare team, the public and the government. The very little number of people that had the privilege of giving the profession a sense of direction as a result of the influence they have in policy formulation did little to this effect. Quackery is eating deep into the fabrics of the profession as there is literarily no laws to curb it. Other members of the healthcare team now enjoy the liberty of training quacks to perform nurses’ roles with impunity. Even professional nurses do same to the overall detriment of this noble profession for financial benefits. As if that is not enough, Professionals sometimes finds it hard to get jobs, as many vacancies there are, are being filled up by quacks, forcing many of our unsuspecting professionals (males especially) into the practice of quackery of sort. Many have been forced into 21st century ‘slaves’ in their own profession by some self-centred ‘MDs’, many have lost their integrity and have now resulted to malpractice as a means of living. And a significant others are even ashamed to be called nurses, and so many have assumed the roles of other members of the healthcare team at their facilities.
However, in spite of all these identified challenges, opportunities abound in the profession. Even though, a lot need to be done. The nurses of this generation must be ready to make certain sacrifices and work hard to re-write the wrongs of the past that has hampered the development of the profession. We must begin, as many are now doing to speak about things that concerns the profession, defend the cause of the Nursing profession, not only by talking about them but by ensuring that take actions and practice the profession with full adherence to its code of ethics as ell as ensuring that we practice within the limit of our training. Above all, Each and every nurses must aspire to be better than they are, by exploring every opportunity to improve our professional competence and confidence in the practice of our calling. Career advancement must be top in our priority and must not be substituted for any other thing.
And as for the authorities in the profession, it’s high time they understood the fact that most of the laws and rules guiding training and practice of Nursing in Nigeria are long overdue for review. Effort must be geared towards ensuring that people seeking for career progression get easy access. This will to an extent help curb the high level of brain drain in the profession. It is absurd that an RN from an accredited school of nursing will have to spend at least 4years to obtain BSc. when same can be obtained in less than a year in some universities in other part of the world that ranks lower than some Nigerian universities. If the entry into the profession is as competitive as it is today (second most sought-after course of study in Nigerian universities), career progression shouldn’t be. Nursing authorities should endeavour to think ahead and make policies to align Nigerian Nursing with global standard. The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) – the body saddled with the responsibility of regulating the training and practice of Nursing in Nigeria must do the needful. By now, the nursing register ought to have been digitalised in such a way that each nurses can be verified even by employers to ensure that only professionals are allowed to practice the profession as spelt out by the NMCN establishment act. Efforts must be made to ensure that some of the outdated and irrelevant sections of this act is presented to the National assembly for amendment. The NMCN should as well set up a functional monitoring unit to be saddled with responsibility of ensuring that Nurses all over the country do what is expected of them as well as to ensure quacks are taken out of business. The services being rendered at the national and regional offices of NMCN should be improved upon, and the ICT unit of the council should be upgraded and equipped to meet the needs of Nurses wherever they are in the country through a viable website and not the current portal operated by the council.
All our training institutions must be compelled to put the needed facilities in place and be ready to rise up to the challenge of producing full-fledged professionals that are ready to go places. The present master-servant relationship that exist between Instructors and students in most Nursing training institutions is not the best way to achieve this. The instructors should be up-to-date in their knowledge base and assume the roles of mentors to the students who are indeed the future of Nursing.
God help me to play my part.
Ayorinde Olowosile RN.
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