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Nursing education in the doldrums- Nurses Association

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation

The Guyana Nurses Association (GNA) on Friday called on the Ministry of Health to stop taking in more students at nursing schools countywide until overcrowding and poor teaching and learning conditions are addressed.

“For some time now, we remained silent while the powers that be consciously or unconsciously manipulated all affairs and aspects of nursing bringing our profession to what it is today,”  the association said in a statement.
The GNA also flayed the Health Ministry for improperly implementing a new curriculum at the Georgetown School of Nursing in 2010 with 500 students rather than at the Charles Roza School of Nursing in Region 10 as a pilot programme. The association recalled that the pilot should have been conducted at a smaller school in keeping with a recommendation by a Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) consultant following a review. The GNA noted, however, that it was an un-reviewed draft curriculum that was implemented at all nursing schools as was instructed by the decision makers of the Ministry of Health.

Unlike the previous curriculum that had provided for two preliminary examinations, the PAHO model had provided for continuous assessment that required clinical instructors and assessment tools; neither of which was put in place. The GNA said that led to the General Nursing Council introducing an Intermediate Examination to assess the level of competency of the students.

The GNA lamented the shortage of clinical supervisors (part-time tutors) who assist students in clinical areas.
Grave concern and outrage have been expressed by the GNA that the Ministry of Health was still enrolling students in the Schools of Nursing without meeting the stipulated criteria for implementation of the curriculum. “To date, three batches of students have since been enrolled in the three Schools of Nursing since the implementation of the current curriculum,” added the GNA.

The GNA recommended the cessation of intake until there is some form of stability and measures are put in place to remedy this situation so that unsuccessful students can be assisted. Other recommendations include a review draft curriculum  currently being used by the schools, revisiting of the Procedure Manuals, recruitment and training of tutors, training and appointment of  clinical instructors and the upgrading of skills lab.

The GNA is also demanding that the Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation ink a Memorandum of Understanding for designated wards to be used for teaching /learning purposes. They must also be fully equipped with all necessary tools for learning, said the association. That recommendation has been made against the background of concerns that there has been reduced bed capacity at the GPHC since that medical institution has been “down sized” to approximately 450 total bed capacity. At the same time, the GNA noted that there has been an increase in the number of students competing with other health professionals such as medical students, Medex students, interns and other nursing students from prrivate institutions, and the GPHC’s “full time” staff)for learning experience.

The removal of direct control of Nursing Schools by the Ministry of Health, the GNA said, must be removed and placed in the hands of Boards of Directors and all matters pertaining to nursing must be managed by the competent nursing administrators such as Director of Nursing/ Matrons, Principal Tutors) in the various institutions. Also being recommended are a review of Student Policy and the enrollment of smaller batches twice per year.

Other concerns that the GNA want addressed are inadequate number of trained full-time tutors, inadequate teaching/learning materials, need  for full-time counselors, ill-equipped small skills lab, reduced time spent on specialized areas (reduced from 1 month to 2 weeks), inadequate lighting and ventilation in the classrooms, gross indiscipline of students, alarmingly high absenteeism rate and very poor punctuality.

Student Tutor Population

Schools of Nursing

Number  of Professional Nursing Students

Number of Trained Tutors

Number of untrained tutors

Georgetown

525

9

1

New Amsterdam

235

2 (both retired and re-employed)

2

Charles Roza

268

7

5