-wants review, more lecturers
The Alliance For Change (AFC), is calling on Government to immediately review the country’s nursing programme, as concerns grow over the quality of training.
There have been complaints by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and officials of the East Street, Georgetown School had warned of crowded classrooms, insanitary conditions and few lecturers.
According to AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday, during the party’s weekly press conference, Government’s nursing programme is a health crisis in the making.
Earlier this month, amidst protests from the union, 65 nursing students were taken in.
“It has been brought to the attention of the Alliance For Change that the quality of training at the Georgetown School of Nursing is being compromised. The AFC was informed that by accepting more students into the nursing school that can be comfortably accommodated, the Ministry of Health is actually forcing lecturers into a position where they cannot provide adequate supervision of the students,” Ramjattan said.
“It is clear that the government is only interested in showing large numbers but in doing so they are sacrificing basic quality for quantity. This situation does not bode well for the future of health care in Guyana as in a few years, these students will become Registered Nurses but they will lack the competence to provide quality health care. Such a situation will result in many patients in the future not being properly looked after and possibly resulting in deaths,” he warned.
Describing the situation as grave, AFC called for an immediate review of how the nursing programme is being run.
It also wanted a number of critical issues to be addressed. These include the conditions of the sanitary facilities and classrooms including seating, ventilation and teaching supplies.
The shortage of competent and qualified lecturers is also another issue that warrants attention.
The availability of adequate clinical instructors and adequate time allotted for clinical training of students and internet access for student nurses should also be addressed, Ramjattan urged.
“Continuing to run the nursing programme the way it is being run right now is equivalent to a national health crisis in the making. The people of Guyana will be the ones to suffer from this.”
Almost two weeks ago, an orientation ceremony for the new batch of students was held at the Regency Suites. It 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.
Overcrowding has been blamed for some students taking a ‘free ride’ through nursing school. Tutors had alleged that the present third year batch is large but many students are still not competent in first year skills.
The class size undergoing clinical studies at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is also an unmanageable number. 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 disclosed that the school administration and key stakeholders met with the former Permanent Secretary of the 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. Students are 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.
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