Nursing Practice in Nigeria: The Long Road to Recognition (3)

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Internship for graduates of Nursing Science

Internship is a sine qua non to professional development, capacity building and professional competency for graduates of healthcare professions in general and nurses in particular. Our leadership was able to propose, defend and actualise the approval of the internship scheme for graduates of nursing sciences in our universities. It is noteworthy that our efforts at ensuring rightful placement of the nursing interns in the healthcare workforce came to fruition when the NCE in 2016 approved the inclusion of intern cadre in the unified schemes of service for nurses. The next challenge here involves striving for proper placement.

(National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives)
Comrade Nurse Abdrafiu Alani Adeniji

Harmonising education with practice

Historically, it was evident that nursing practice and nursing education were interwoven. We began in a collaborative mode, but we lost the tie that bound the two variables together.

Nursing was striving to be at par with other health professions. To promote this goal, nursing unguardedly created a wide gap between its education and practice, leading to educational and practice differences, as well as superiority and inferiority complexes among nursing personnel – based only on citadel of learning and training but not on professional qualifications, competencies, and adherence to ethical standard compliances.

Nurses engaged in in-fighting, running down each other and defacing and also debasing the profession. Painfully, there were nurses that empowered and collaborated with detractors other health professionals and administrators to render deadly blows to nursing professional developments.

It is only in nursing in Nigeria that you produce a product that you are not proud of, much less market to services consumers. England (1986) in Igbinlade (2010) once recognised the cause of the widened gap between nursing education and practice as that of “bad mentorship”.  She noted that the art of mentorship had its beginning in early Greek times but has been utilised inconsistently in the nursing arena, adding categorically that: “nursing is a profession that has demonstrated serious lack of talented mentors.”

Schoor also supported this by referring to most mentors of nursing as “self-centered” and that lack of cohesion on the part of these mentors had greatly distorted the attainment of positive dividends that the transition of nursing education from diploma to degree might have ushered.

It is therefore pertinent that we, as nurses retrace our steps’, examine further and critically those factors responsible for the gap between nursing education and practice and if it was not so, institutionalise corrective steps for harmony. This trend has also compromised the image of nurses in the public glare and mostly among health administrators and the media practitioners.

Way forward

My suggestion is effective collaboration among the arms of nursing – that is, nursing practice and nursing education, administration, regulation and association. Gilson-Parkevich (1992) in Igbinlade (2015) stated it well that “we all possess talents, expertise and creativity within our individual selves to shape our collective destiny”.

Babajide (1996) in Igbinlade (2015) also likens the nursing profession to that of a baby dove who unfortunately had its egg hatched by a mother hen along with other chickens. The baby dove later continued to peck on the ground with its otherworldly designed “family” but every time it looked at the sky and watched other doves fly, it envied them and sang, “If I had the wings of a dove, I would fly high…”

Nursing profession is like that dove with all the characteristics required for it to fly high, but if care is not taken, a chicken will emerge instead.  Appropriate and amiable developmental traits are inherent in Nursing; let us use them positively.

The regulatory body of the profession – the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) – must initiate and collaborate with relevant bodies and organisations. The National Association of Nigeria Nurses’ and Midwives’ (NANNM) as the only recognised association of nurses in the country must not relent in providing leadership in championing the task of professional struggle and extend the frontier of professional unionism beyond the regular public sector. This was corroborated by Prof. E. O. Ajao in his inaugural lecture in 2016.

Past and present service chiefs of nursing services must partake in the transformative agenda. The nurse scholars at the training institutions and universities must also be ready to use their position to pave way for development and increased access to education.

The effective collaboration of the aforementioned stakeholders will go a long way in making nursing education reform a transformational tool for improved healthcare delivery system.

By Comrade Nurse Abdrafiu Alani Adeniji

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