“We see no reason why arrangements should not be put in place to pay qualified nurses their salaries immediately after they have started working,” says Dawn Gardener, First Vice President of the Guyana Public Service Union [GPSU].
Gardener’s disclosure comes in the wake of recent developments which saw graduate nurses waiting for a protracted period before they were paid their salaries.
“It took several months and some amount of intervention before they received their first salary [and] the Guyana Public Service Union was unhappy over that,” said Gardener.
This is in light of the fact, Gardener added, that “it is tough enough given the meagreness of the salary in the first place and the many demands that our nurses face.”
As she highlighted the salary plight of the nurses, Gardener disclosed that the financial challenges have been known to emerge even before the nurses reach the graduation stage.
“It is my understanding that there is a special challenge associated with training to become a nurse in Guyana. There is the very small stipend and the difficulties associated with resources for training,” Gardener shared.
“My own view is that quite apart from the training from which our nurses benefit, there is something about what I would call the ‘culture of service’ that nurses bring to the profession. Nurses bring more than just skills; nurses bring caring, nurses bring warmth [and] nurses bring attributes that cannot be taught in a classroom…they must be cultivated in a caring culture and an environment of warmth and feeling,” Gardener asserted.
Gardener’s remarks were forthcoming yesterday during the opening ceremony of a Global Guyanese Nurses Reunion conference at the Kingston, Georgetown Pegasus Hotel. The conference is among the activities to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Guyana Nurses Association [GNA].
Even as she shared the union’s view that the national health system is not fully equipped to meet the overall national need, Gardener added, “We believe too that those who are in charge of the system are not always sensitive to the challenge that nurses face.”
But this does not obtain elsewhere in the world where the profession is highly respected, Gardener noted.
Given the high regard that the nursing profession attracts overseas, Gardener disclosed that “just recently we had been hearing of nurses from the Caribbean leaving to work outside of the region.”
But this should not be the case since, according to the First Vice President, “nurses are amongst those categories of workers who have always worked tirelessly for the benefit of the profession and of the country’s public servants as a whole.”
As such she noted, “We are aware that it requires a special commitment, a special caring for the welfare of people to enter into the profession of nursing…”
“Frankly, it is impossible to put a monetary value on warmth, caring and a sense of responsibility. In that sense, you as nurses give more than your time; you give yourselves, you give your hearts, you give your lives,” Gardener told the gathering of nurses.
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