City Nursing School full but recruits still sent there
- GPSU contemplating industrial actions
News of additional students being admitted to the already overcrowded Georgetown School of Nursing has frustrated tutors, who believe that the quality of nursing is being compromised for quantity output.
Yesterday’s orientation ceremony held for the newcomers at the Regency Suites, sparked concerns as to where they would be placed and what will happen to existing students. The function was not attended by a representative of the school.
Currently, the school has a student population of about 400, which makes it difficult for the seven tutors to lecture and execute administrative duties. The Nurse Assistant Programme and Clinical areas have one tutor each. There are two midwifery tutors and four tutors for the Professional Nursing Programme.
Major concerns expressed by tutors include overcrowding, ad hoc admission of students, and the negative attitude of some students towards nursing. These challenges hamper tutors from effectively teaching theory and clinical.
According to staff, the newcomers temporarily stationed at the school annex are expected to be placed at the Georgetown School of Nursing. This is troubling to tutors who are fearful that adverse conditions facing current students will increase.
“We do not need anymore students because we have a responsibility to produce competent nurses…Even if you bring more tutors the quality of nurses must not be compromised for quantity…These nurses will have to be in charge of shifts where they will need to make decisions with patients’ lives at risk,” they stated.
Overcrowding of students has been blamed for some students taking a ‘free ride’ through nursing school. The tutors emphasized that the present third year batch is large and many students are not competent in first year skills.
They stressed, “Some students have a negative attitude towards studies…For them it is about stipend collection…This attitude compounded by the large student population makes it difficult for tutors to effectively manage the students.”
The class size undergoing clinical studies at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is large. This enables some students to sign the register and skip classes later.
The student population also affects the length of time students experience practical studies at GPHC’s Intensive Care Unit, Accident and Emergency Unit and Operating Theatre.
“Students in batches of four are expected to spend one month at those units… If there are 200 students and everyone has to undergo training that would take years…Therefore, the length of time students spend at those areas is reduced to two weeks.”
The tutors emphasized that the school administration and key stakeholders met with the former Permanent Secretary of Health Ministry, Hydar Ally, and discussed some major issues in depth, especially the ad hoc placement of students at the facility.
They related that there is documentation stipulating March and September as the entry period for students. However, this is not being respected with students being sent at anytime during the year. This affects examinations.
“Last November students were sent to the school…Those students did no work until January but they were given stipends…Students should not be taken in like that…There should be a demand for those students first,” the tutors said.
The tutors said that the absence of a representative of the school on the Selection Board contributes to the poor quality of some students who join the school. In early 2000s, the responsibility of the school to interview students was removed.
They recommended that the entry age of students should be changed from age 16 to 18 since the adult students complain of distractions posed by their younger colleagues.
Tutors of the Georgetown School of Nursing are not the only ones concerned about the quality of nurses being produced.
According to President of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Patrick Yarde, the Union’s position remains unchanged as it relates to the reckless and irresponsible actions of the Ministry of Health to recruit more student nurses.
He emphasized that what the Ministry is attempting to do is now compounding the situation and threatened that “if necessary we will take appropriate industrial actions.”
This recent student intake disrespects and disregards tutors and is impacting their morale, Yarde said.
He added that it is clear that the priority is not the quality of training nurses receive but a desire to prove some unknown point.
“The public should take action against this…They should stand up against the rascality… They must recognize that the tutors, Nursing Association and GPSU are looking at the condemnation in the public interest,” he said.