Hundreds flock nursing programmes despite limited spaces

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Hundreds flock nursing programmes despite limited spaces

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 17, 2020

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DESPITE the worrisome attrition rate of nurses, each year hundreds of applicants to local nursing programmes are turned away due to lack of space in tertiary institutions.

The revelation was made by Dr Adella Campbell, head of the Caribbean School of Nursing (CSON), University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), while speaking to the Jamaica Observer after the institution's ninth Annual Striping Ceremony recently, which saw 254 nursing students and 92 midwifery students across years one to four being striped.

Nursing and midwifery students at CSON earn stripes based on merit, good behaviour and the successful completion of all modules by the end of the first semester of each academic year. Therefore , successful year one students earn their first stripe after completing semester one and year two students earn their second stripe after successfully completing year one courses and the first semester of year two.

Dr Campbell explained that each year CSON gets 800 more applicants than can be accommodated, as the institution has a cap.

“Per year we have 100 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students in Kingston and 40 in MoBay. For midwifery, we take 40 students each year in Kingston and 25 in MoBay — these are generic. We get more applicants than we can accommodate each year,” she said.

Dr Campbell further explained that the institution is regulated by the Nursing Council of Jamaica, which monitors the education and practice of nurses and midwives locally.

“They set requirements for training and cap numbers for training. They assess training facilities as well as health institutions for suitability for training. We can't go beyond the cap that is set,” she shared.

For those who don't make the cut, they either opt to be added to a waiting list or take up offers at other nursing schools or faculties at UTech.

The head of CSON pointed out that the high attrition rate among nurses locally, which saw the number of nurses resigning from the health sector jumping from about 200 in 2017 to 641 in 2019, is the reason individuals clamour to get into programmes.

“The interest increases because this shows it is a marketable profession, and Jamaican nurses have a reputation,” she said, adding that some individuals get trained in order to work overseas.

Additionally, Dr Campbell encouraged student nurses and midwives at the striping ceremony to stick to the event's theme of 'Nursing and Midwifery Students: Emerging Health Leaders' through their day-to-day activities.

She said: “Students, as you emerge as leaders, as you strive to be the best copy of yourselves, I implore you to be hungry for excellence — do not limit yourself. Don't be afraid to try every single road that might take you to your growth. Never give up, defeat never occurs unless you accept it as defeat. Stay focused and committed, more importantly, do not compare yourself to others. You are not a copy, you are an original. Craft your own individuality and sense of style.

“Emerging leaders possess the ability to articulate their values, beliefs and expectations. Moreover, trying to be someone else will only frustrate you and make you uncomfortable and miserable. As we emerge as leaders, I charge you to continue to strive for excellence and success as we strive to impact the lives of those we come into contact with,” she said.

President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, Carmen Johnson, who lamented the yearly loss of nurses to overseas markets, encouraged the students to stay and hone their skills.

“To who much is due, much is required. While you continue to hone your academic skills, we want to say to you, learn your soft skills also. We are losing our nurses and one of the challenges we are having is that we don't have sufficient leaders. Look within yourself and determine if you are a leader or follower... Look and see the changes you can make,” she said.

Johnson added: “Live in a state of consciousness as to who you are. Live in a state of consciousness as to the type of nurse you want to be and the changes that you want to see in the profession. Remain in your country for a little while and hone your skills... Focus on quality rather than appearance. If you have quality, your appearance will fall in place...

“I leave you some words from Phillip Sweet. Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not clichés, but real tools you need no matter what you do in life, to stay focused on your path,” the association president said.

Meanwhile, keynote speaker Dr Patrece Charles charged the student nurses and midwives to overcome challenges regardless of their nature.

“Life is designed to challenge us and we are designed to overcome. Despite the challenges you may face, you should never forget, don't ever forget the successes in life,” she said after recounting how her mother left Jamaica as a registered nurse (RN) and had to restart her career as a housewife, then became a practical nurse before going on to regain her RN qualifications in the USA then moving on to become a neonatal nurse.

Dr Charles added: “Remain humble; challenge yourself but don't forget your challenges. Rise above your challenges. Always act with integrity. Take care of yourself. Always pay it forward and it will always come back to you. Have that 4.0 GPA in the soft skills because even when dealing with Alzheimer's patients they know good. What you must never do is stay stagnant — I use that word specifically because it illustrates how bad it is if you just stay in one place without any desire to improve, to learn, that hunger to move up. Stay hungry.”


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