Deliberate efforts are ongoing to address the shortcomings of the Ministry of Public Health’s
nursing programme. A move in this direction has been recognised as particularly important if the nursing programme is to be revamped and eventually produced the desired results.
To achieve this goal, a number of technical individuals have been meeting to make necessary changes to the programme.
Spearheading this venture is Director of Health Sciences Education, within the Ministry of Public Health, Mr. Wilton Benn, who has been working in close collaboration with a number of individuals with keen understanding of things nursing.
Among them is Ms. Mandy La Fleur, who has added to the efforts by bringing on board a Clinical Nursing Instructors’ Trainer of Trainers handbook. The handbook, which was created by a consultancy led by La Fleur, is seen as instrumental to the process.
This is in light of the fact that clinical instruction has been recognised as a key element to help improve nursing education.
This is particularly important, since detailed in the training manual is the fact that Guyana is well poised among the Caribbean countries to provide competent nursing personnel through its ongoing pre-service education programmes. These programmes consist of the Registered Nurse, Registered Nursing Assistant and the Registered Midwife training programmes.
Added to this, in the year 2000, higher education for nurses was implemented at the University of Guyana, thereby allowing for the addition of approximately 20 Bachelors of Science graduate nurses annually in the areas of management, alternative management nursing, health sciences tutors and public health.
But in spite of the achievements, it has been outlined that a review of the Registered Nurses curriculum in 2006 and a Midwifery Curriculum in 2010 have helped to identify and address a number of challenges in the nursing and midwifery education.
The challenges that have been highlighted by La Fleur and her consultancy team are numerous, but among those prominently listed are: large number of students and insufficient numbers of trained teaching staff, limited opportunities to practice and master skills, poor monitoring of students’ clinical progress which can lead to limited opportunities or provision of feedback to students. The latter challenge has been one that has warranted the need for Clinical Instructors to be recruited.
But there are more challenges that have been amplified, including the fact that facilities used for clinical practice are not always representative of the facilities, such as outpatient clinics where graduates are expected to work. Further it has been revealed that practical experiences are separated from, and do not always reflect, the associated theoretical experiences; there has been poor quality materials and equipment, limited access to computers and up-to-date reference materials, among others.
“While some of these challenges are still being addressed, greater effort is needed to speed up the momentum in addressing critical issues that will ensure a pre-service education that is competency-based and evidence-based, that adequately addresses the priority health needs and problems within the society,” La Fleur has outlined in the handbook.
In fact, she has noted that in the quest to address the challenges, there must be deliberate moves to embrace a framework of global, regional and national policies, guidelines and standards that are relevant to community needs and problems that will drive the expected role of the nurse upon graduation.
But it has been further deduced that while continuous, purposeful and targeted investments in nursing pre-service education is essential in addressing the mentioned challenges, it is also purposeful for global standards for nursing education to be simultaneously maintained.
Moreover, this publication understands that the Public Health Ministry, through the Division of Health Sciences Education, is addressing a number of initiatives, including a programme that will ensure student nurses are competent in theory and practice for the effective delivery of patient care.
“One aspect of the programme includes the identification and training of a cadre of clinical instructors to provide clinical supervision to student nurses in their clinical practice setting,” Director Benn disclosed.
This publication has been informed that there is currently a great deal of commitment, inclusive of investment from both local and overseas, in the quest towards the cause of improving nursing education. This has been substantiated by Benn, who said that the Public Health Ministry has been collaborating with the Pan American Health Organisation in this regard. Added to this, this publication has learnt that the efforts are gaining positive support from the Ministry of Finance as well.
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