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The association made the request when members converged at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
Speaking to newsmen, the President of the Association, Mr Emmanuel Egorp said the rally was to enlist the intervention of the Office of the Head of Service especially for fresh graduate nurses.
``There is this work experience organised by most professions as way of equipping students with the competence of their profession and this is obtainable in Pharmacy, Medical Sciences, Radiology and Medicine as their own housemanship.
``We as nurses are closer to the patients and we also do five years like those in other fields but we don’t have such experience.
``The public has high expectation about graduate nurses so we cannot deliver on that when we do not have, as the internship to equip us before going to the labour market,'' he said.
According to the president, the internship programme has been approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Ministry of Health but only left for the National Council on Establishments, headed by the Head of Service of the Federation.
Dr Tunji Olaopa, Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office, who spoke on behalf of the Head of Service of the Federation, urged the students to appoint three representatives of the Union to meet with officials of the Head of Service.
``I urge you all to return to your places of work as the three representatives will report back to you, `` he said
The nursing profession starting from the era of the foremost nurse theorist, Florence Nightingale, has experienced great change and has continue to experience more especially this 21st century. Nevertheless, there a few elements who do not want such changes or are in direct opposition to such changes. These individuals include amongst others nurses, policy makers and various agencies of government that are responsible for the implementation of whatever policy or change there maybe.
These elements clog on the wheels of progress of the nursing profession, thereby making the profession somewhat burdensome and backwards, with little or no motivation. The worse of it all is the attitude of some nurses who are supposed to be strong advocates of the profession, for best reasons known to them do not like change that is veered to the right direction. The profession has more than 70% of its workforce trained through the various nursing schools that are scattered all over the country. On graduation from these schools (which takes a period of three years), graduands are awarded the registered nurse (RN) certificate. These hospital based nurses spend most of their time in the hospital with little or narrow theoretical spectrum.
The bachelor of nursing science programme cuts across many areas of nursing and these are interposed with other university courses that are outside nursing but are necessary for the well rounded training that meets the objectives of the B.NSc programme. These courses make it possible for the degree programme to measure up with international standards. They include anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, medical jurisprudence (Law), biostatistics, psychology, mathematics, sociology, economics, pharmacology to mention but a few. The result of this kind of programme is the production of academically studded graduate nurse with less clinical exposure. This type of system is also obtainable in other Health science courses like Medical Laboratory Sciences, Medical Radiography, Medical Rehabilitation and even in Medicine and Surgery. Hence, these aforementioned disciplines go for a one year internship in any government approved hospital except Nursing. The rest profession, Nursing inclusive are all 5 years programme except medicine which is 6.On graduation as a nurse, the programme demands that you get a post-basic qualification in Midwifery. Hence the awarding of the registered midwife certificate (RM). This means an additional one year but for the sake of the university programme, it was shrinked to 6 months.
It has really become worrisome the indifference of both government and the supposed mouth piece of nurses in Nigeria-National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwife (NANNM) and in part Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN). NANNM has totally failed Nigerian nurses since she cannot live up to her responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that government implement policies that are good for the progress of the profession. NANNM is only interested in partisan politics, thereby sacrificing the integrity of the profession on the altar of mercenary gains. The implementation of the graduate nurse internship to NANNM is like a white elephant project, if not, why would NANNM be kicking against the proper placement for graduate nurses which the internship will afford them on the premise that “a nurse is a nurse”, and that the federal government should have a unified salary structure for nurses irrespective of their educational attainment. That is really absurd! Most NANNM officials are made up of those who do not have a degree in nursing and as such, the truth is glaring, that these pretenders are not nurses and do not represent nurses’ interest. It does not matter to them if the graduates of the nascent B.NSc programme who were admitted through the University Matriculation Exam (UME), are properly placed or not.
It is not their problem if these toddlers of the nursing profession staggered in confusion in diverse nursing specialties that they are not opportune to garner experience in because of non-implementation of the internship for them. All that NANNM is proactive about doing is the collection of arbitrary dues and unwarranted deductions from nurses’ salaries.
This is evident from her inability to bring the government to implement the graduate nurse internship. A programme which was planned by the NMC, stating the years (5years + one year internship), was approved by the National University Commission (NUC), Ministry of Health and Council on Establishment headed by the Head of Service of the Federation, is hitherto a mirage. NMC, NANNM and the government know that it is ethically wrong and morally bad to push out graduates of this noble profession into the national youth service without having them go through the mandatory one year internship that will help them make a smooth transition from a theory-based practice to a clinical one.
Hence every year, hundreds of graduates nurses are sent into the youth service without having them go through the internship programme. The result, we see clinically deficient graduates nurses who only quote theories and textbooks without actually appreciating the real practice unlike their counterparts in other health related profession.
The issue of refusal to implement or delay in the implementation of the graduate nurse internship by the government is another kettle of fish which is ripping us apart as Nigerians. This is the part of the problem with Nigeria. Until we start doing the right thing and at the right time, we will always have challenges and problems. We cannot continue to allow abnormality to prevail and rule as king in our society. We cannot continue to produce half-baked graduates all the time, deceiving ourselves with empty reasoning. If we want to be global citizens, we must rise up to this clarion call today and shun corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of our society today.
It is only an insane person that will say no, to the implementation of the graduate nurse internship. There is no gain saying that the internship is long overdue. It is just absolutely what it is, a crucial part of the graduate nurse training.
Nigeria is faced with various challenges, from poverty, misappropriation of fund to insecurity, which has rippled the smooth face of our natural habitat. Most of these problems are caused by man’s insensitivity to man. Truly, Nigeria is a case in point. Man has actually dominated man to his own injury. If not, why the refusal to implement the graduate nurse internship by the government.
In an attempt to salvage their future, university nursing students all over the country under the umbrella of Nigeria Universities Nursing Students Association (NUNSA), organized a peaceful rally in Abuja on 3rd March, 2010. The rally drew sympathizers from fellow Nigerians including the media and the powers that be (the then Head of Service of the Federation, professor Afolabi), with the head of service making a promise through his representative for a speedy implementation of the one year clinical training for graduate nurses. Different circulars have been released with respect to the approval of the nursing internship from the office of the head of service and council on establishment.
Even schools (universities) with accreditation for nursing programme were sent copies. They promised full implementation by August, 2012 since they were finishing with the necessary modalities for smooth operation. Here we are, August has come and gone without Teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres advertising for graduate nurse internship placements. All we see is Food and Nutrition, Medicine and Surgery and other allied Health profession’s internship advert.
We want to let the federal government of this country know that we are tired of government gimmicks and promises in this all important struggle. We by this press release appeal once more to the powers that be to make a speedy implementation of the graduate nurse internship without further reservations. It must also be called to the attention of the President and Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Bello Sali that graduate nurses who spent 6 years studying nursing and midwifery are relegated to the background in a sector where collegial role performance of all and sundry are invaluable. Graduate nurses are placed on level 7 and 8 respectively as the case may be after youth service while their counterparts in other allied health professions are placed on level 10 after internship and youth service. This is absolutely unacceptable and paints a lugubrious picture on the face and future of the nursing profession, nurses and our country Nigeria.
We cannot continue to experience brain drain in nursing simply because some people profit from making troubles for others. The nursing profession by all standards is long overdue to be accorded the respect and status it deserves. Hence, we appeal to the government to stand up to its duty and not shack its responsibility. We will never take to violence to solve our problems because we are under an oath to protect life and violence ends up destroying it. Nevertheless, we must never give up in being more aggressive in persuading and lobbying responsible agencies to do the right thing. Nursing profession must be brought to par with other professions in the health industry and the major leeway towards actualizing this is through
the urgent implementation of the graduate nurse internship.
The Nigerian Universities Students Association have criticised the exclusion of graduate nurses from the internship programmes organised for medical science graduates.
The More than 200 final-year students of nursing, who took their protest to the Federal secretariat in Abuja, expressed disappointment that the federal ministry of health has not taken the internship of nurses serious in spite of the approval granted by the National Universities Commission.
Nursing students are required to undergo a year of internship in clinical studies, reportedly approved by the National Universities Commission in 2010.
But the Nigerian Universities Nursing Students Associations (NUNSA) said delay in implementing the programme has hit its members hardest, denying them of clinical experience and leaving them less privileged than other students of health and medical sciences who undergo housemanship.
One banner the protesters carried read, “So Nigerians how do you feel, when your child is sick and the nurses in charge of your child are not trained; treating your child under ignorance due to lack of full knowledge of what he’s doing?”
Other read, “Internship is the heartbeat of a nurse” and “Internship is the way forward to true professionalism in nursing science”.
NUNSA president, Ozu Frederick, said students graduating in nursing science were “half-baked products” without the internship programme.
Efforts to get a reaction from the ministry of health on the issue proved abortive, the director of press and public affairs at the National Universities Commission, Ibrahim Yakassai, who spoke to Channels Television’s correspondent on phone, confirmed the approval granted to the student nurses but advised them to liaise with the nNursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.
The rally is said to be peaceful but the protesters insist on not leaving till their demands are met.
According to a reliable source, the earlier pleas of the Director of nursing services, Mrs okodugha asking them to go home fell on deaf ears, as the nurses stood their ground.
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