Nurses of Baptist Hospital Mutengene (BHM) stole the show as they joined their counterparts the world over to celebrate this year’s International Nurses Day. CBC Health Services Communication Unit’s Editor-In-Chief, Bonkung Handerson witnessed the event and engaged the Chair of Mentorship Committee for Nurses in BHM, Ndong Etheldreda Bih in the following insightful interview that goes beyond the event of the day. Read on…
What is the significance of the International Nurses Day?
Etheldreda: Given that nurses and midwives make up over 50 percent of the health force world over, the International Council for Nurses set aside May 12 every year as the day to recognize the tremendous contributions nurses bring to the health workforce, and also to bring their challenges to the fore.
How peculiar was the celebration of this day in BHM?
Etheldreda: In BHM, we had weeklong activities that ran from May 5, which is the International Day of the Midwives to May 12 which is for nurses. On May 5, we had presentations in chapel and we also did recognitions of some dedicated midwives. On May 9, we presented poems in chapel to celebrate nurses; on May 10, we reached out to students of GBHS Mutengene to encourage them to pick up careers in nursing; on May 11, we had a presentation in chapel on the career path for nurses and professional development activities to encourage nurses in BHM in particular and perhaps, nurses in the CBCHS as a whole to understand that there is a way for them to grow educationally and professionally within the system.
Key celebration activities were done on May 12 in chapel which included; motivational dance, a presentation by the Committee Chair, award of certificates of recognition to meritorious nurses across the wards and departments and feasting.
The presentation by the Committee chair expatiated on this year’s theme, which is “Nurses, A Voice to Lead: Invest in nurses, respect rights to ensure global health”. She invited government organizations and institutions to invest in the education of nurses and the empowerment of nurses to pick up leadership positions to influence decision-making. She also lamented that nurses are overloaded with work, under paid and under-valued. She encouraged the CBC Health Services as an organization to continue to invest in their nurses so that they can become more resilient, highly qualified, and consequently, ensuring better health output for the communities.
The Committee Chair commended the administration of BHM for their relentless support to their nurses, but like Oliver Twist, she implored them to have a relook at the situation of nurses, especially amidst the pandemics and the socio-economic and political situation in the country.
Are you aware of the outcry of falling standards of nursing care in our hospitals and what is your core up to this challenge?
Etheldreda: Truly, public opinion holds that nursing standards are falling not only in the CBCHS, but also in the entire country. Personally, I think this is true and I also think that one of the leading contributing factors is training. Once there is a gap between theory and practice standards are bound to fall. Classroom teaching and learning in nursing must go hand-in-hand with clinical teaching and learning. Sometimes, nursing students are poorly supported in placement settings due to the lack of trained mentors and link lecturers. This creates a gap as students fail to be appropriately supported to pick up the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to be competent in practice.
Furthermore, because of this lack of formal training for mentors, they sometimes fail to fail students and incompetent nurses are graduated. In the same light, novice nurses newly recruited, sometimes do not have enough support from the nurses who act as mentors in the hospitals.
Sad to say, but we have had employment letters for nurses whose mentors thought they were not fit for employment. This further compound the problem. Fortunately, the Baptist Hospital Mutengene identified this, had mentors trained and came up with a Mentorship Committee to support nursing students and novice nurses. As chair of that Committee, we’re leaving no stone unturned in a bit to redeem the standards.
How does your committee relate with the Nursing Office and the Administration of BHM?
Etheldreda: We have their full support! It is our sincere hope that their effort will not go in vain as we look forward to the nursing standards of years past, and why not better, owing to the growing evidence and technology to better health outcomes.
What is your relationship with the medical doctors as well given the hope that nurses can also grow beyond their present capacity?
Etheldreda: Gone are those days when nurses served as handmaids for doctors. Nursing is a full-fledged profession. Just like medical doctors, we’re part of the multi-disciplinary team with one goal – better client outcome. While medical doctors treat the diseases our clients present with, nurses treat the client’s response to the disease. Every professional nurse understands this, and I am very sure that medical doctors understand the importance of the nurse in the work they do. I don’t even know how medical doctors can cope without nurses. We therefore have a duty to continue to empower our nurses to pick up their professional roles and work hand in hand with medical doctors to ensure the best care outcomes for our clients. We nurses must continue to gain education to grow and develop in our profession.
What is your definition of an ideal nurse as we wrap up?
Etheldreda: The very essence of nursing is caring. An ideal nurse is caring, she is compassionate, meaning that she sees and understands suffering and is willing to help. She is selfless, she goes beyond the call of duty to be of service to her clients. She is responsive, ready at all times to be of service to her clients. She is innovative and takes initiative. She is gentle and her heart is full of love for mankind. She is of noble character and always neat in her splendour. Above all, she shines the light of Christ, winning souls for His glory.
How do you feel when you don’t find these qualities in a nurse?
Etheldreda: It is very disheartening. I want to say categorically that if you don’t have these qualities then you’re a quack and not a nurse. The above listed qualities are the very heart of nursing. As you acquire knowledge, attitudes and skills through training, we expect you to develop these qualities. When you graduate with a piece of paper without these qualities, you fail! Knowledge is very essential for the practice of nursing but certificates do not make nurses. Nurses are called and they serve from the heart; knowledge only empowers them. So, I therefore call on my nursing colleagues to choose to be nurses and not quacks.