The Minister of Public Health is elated about the results of the national nursing examinations. However, she ought to worried, extremely worried.
It was reported in March of this year that there had been massive failures at the last examination. Some reports put the number of those failing the examination at almost 90%. Now, in less than one year, we are learning that there has been a dramatic improvement with a 97% pass rate. Something is radically wrong here.
Either something is radically wrong or something is extremely right. Guyana’s pass rate is sensational. In the United States, for all students the pass rate was just around 75%, while for US-educated students it was just lower than 90%. Guyana’s pass rate of 97% would probably make it the top performance in the world for 2017.
The pass rate in Ontario, Canada for 2016 was around 86%, but they have a system where students have to write an examination just to be registered to attend the nursing school and the failure rate for this was very high, which means that only the very best make it into nursing school.
However, it is not the pass rate that is the worry. It is the improvement in the rate. The improvement in the pass rate represents a statistical anomaly which needs a detailed investigation.
If the improvement is plotted on a graph, then its steep gradient would raise eyebrows. This type of improvement will raise red flags. It should have within the Ministry, notwithstanding the interventions it said it made. It simply is mind-boggling for the pass rate to show that type of improvement.
If the entry requirements for writing the examination did not change, then this sort of improvement in performance is bound to raise skepticism.
A great many of our nurses go overseas to work in regional health institutions. When those institutions read about this phenomenal improvement, they are going to get worried and want to administer their own tests before allowing local nurses to work with them.
The Ministry of Public Health must therefore explain, in detail, the overall pass rate last year and what interventions or changes it made that would account for almost a 97% record of passes in the examinations this year.
This is a matter which must be taken seriously. Nurses are responsible for the health of individuals. A nurse must be satisfactorily qualified and trained before being put to work to attend to patients.
Perhaps, the interventions by the Ministry did work. And this is all the more reason why the Public Health Ministry should indicate just what it did that impacted so phenomenally on the performance of the nurses at the examinations. This is breaking news internationally. These interventions can bring international fame to Guyana’s nursing programme.
The Ministry of Public Health must confirm whether its nursing examinations enjoy equivalency with similar examinations in other countries and whether the examinations are recognized in all Caribbean countries.
Last year, the Ministry of Education took a decision to have the National Grade Six Assessment set by the Caribbean Examinations Council. This did present some problems for students, with many of them complaining about the difficulty of the Mathematics examination.
The Ministry of Public Health should try to copy what the Ministry of Education has done. It should ask an international nursing examination body to administer the local nursing examination. This would mean that when nurses graduate they would have an internally recognized certificate. It would also help them to find jobs easier in other countries.
If our pass rate is 97%, Guyana should see nurses as a national export. We should be exporting nurses far more than we are doing now. We should not have to be importing nurses as we are doing now.
Secondly, there should be a process of upgrading the entry requirements into nursing school. It sounds good that we can train 200 nurses every few months, but the internship training for these jobs will have to be mainly done at local medical institutions which will find it difficult to absorb all of these nurses, considering that they will also wish to retain their own experienced nurses rather than having them go abroad.
Finally, the nurses should be properly paid. If these nurses are as good as the examination results indicate, they should not be working for no less than $100,000 per month.
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