(Written by Nurse Josiah Jackson-Okesola)
I have followed the topic of respecting older colleagues or nurse leaders and managers
(by standing up to greet or collecting bags) closely and have refrained from commenting
because I feel such kind of mundane issues is the least of all the problems of Nursing that
should drain our energies as Nurse leaders. In fact, it is supposed to be a No-No topic
because we all know that the right thing to do as an African child is to respect people
older than us. In the last 24 hours, I was really struggling to understand how that mundane
or non-issue should generate any sort of controversy in the first place and I feel that
some issues are better passed over than dissipate energy on them. Fortunately, thinking
deeply about the line of thoughts of some of the respectable leaders who see nothing
wrong in the standing up rituals, I have learnt a lot on the mindset and mentality of the
average Nigerian Nurse.
As a practicing psychotherapist, I have come to appreciate the depth of our dilemma as
Nigerian Nurses from the PSYCHOLOGICAL ANGLE and must unrepentantly say that:
WE REALLY NEED SERIOUS HELP! So rather than dissipating energy on shattering the
two-legged table by dwelling on the rightness or wrongness of one of the shallowest
demands in nursing, I will rather proffer a way forward identifying a root cause and
hoping that one or two of the elders on the platform will take personal responsibility for
a CALL TO ACTION.
In the almost 10 years I worked in the Oil and Gas sector, and not just for any company,
for one of the foremost medical system run at the American standard of practice, I
worked under Nurse leaders coordinating the mental health departments of 5 locations
– 2 in Lagos and 3 in the Niger Delta regions. All through these years that I had the
opportunity of working with highly ranked Nurses leaders from different cultures and
tribes, trained in traditional nursing schools. It will be shocking to know that: NOT FOR ONCE, NOT FOR A SINGLE TIME did the issue of standing up to greet senior nurses come up as a controversy nor was a single nurse questioned or queried for such issue. It was simply a non-issue!
READ THIS: THE REFORM NANNM NOW AGITATION
In 2005, I was pressured by my mother, to leave my job in Critical Rescue International
(a corporate emergency outfit) for the Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba (a decision that
almost completely messed up my mental health). For the 5 years I managed to survive in
the nursing system of civil service (and remembering the shocking experiences I had as a student nurse on clinical postings between 1997 and 2000), this is what I discovered;
A very worrisome percentage of Nurse leaders who work in Nigeria’s nursing clinical
practice (“mostly” in the public/civil service) suffer from LOW SELF ESTEEM, LOW SELF
CONFIDENCE AND SELF BELIEF!
Is this actually their fault? PARTIALLY NOT!
From the facts I have on my fingertips having interacted with nurse leaders from many
African countries, Nigeria run one of the most archaic, esteem-demeaning, confidence, crushing and bullish hospital based educational system in the 21st century!
In the last 5 decades, we have produced tens of thousands of Nurses from the hospital-based system whose psyche were totally messed up as student nurses. Many of these nurses had the opportunities of leaving the shores of this country to practice in climates where the nursing profession truly originated from and the CODE OF ETHICS FOR NURSING has not been completely twisted with sentiments.
These ones have been re-oriented and EXPOSED to the global standard of practice hence survived the terrible effects of the dignity stripping post-secondary school educational system we had always run. Many Nurse leaders who stayed back in the country and who have gone ahead to developed themselves personally, working so much on their self-esteem and confidence have also been liberated from the shackles of bondage. We know many of these ones very well especially in issues such as standing up to greet or collecting bags by subordinates. To
them, these are really non issues.
Unfortunately, there are still just so many leaders in this country, a lot of them actually
who were not only victims of the bullying and oppression which affected their psychology
and mentality as student nurses. But also, the higher form of dignity stripping tradition
of the Nigerian civil service vis a vis placement of Nurses in the civil service system In the
Nigerian civil service system, where majority of the bullying take place, many of the
current Nigerian nurse leaders have SUFFERED! Many of them have not only been victims of oppression by their Nursing and hospital management, they have also been victims of the POVERTY (financial and psychological) that has become a trademark of the Nigerian Nursing profession in the civil service system!
To be truthful and honest, Nigerian nurse leaders in the civil service have suffered from
too much internal and external psychological battering and many are still suffering as
we speak. There are a lot, yes, a lot of leaders and managers who feel so much
professional emptiness and relevance coupled with some trace of frustration due to the
disastrous state of RESPECT & REGARD accorded to them as Nurses, especially in relation to the heartbreaking and depressing secular disadvantage suffered by many in the
Nigerian federal or state civil service system.
So, when we see Nurse leaders who demand for abnormal respect, we need to understand where they are coming from, the kind of educational training they receive as Nurses, the kind of system they have been “living their lives in”, the kind of psychological trauma they have allowed themselves to be victims of and the position of powerlessness and emptiness they currently find themselves in. Understanding the root problem from this psychological angle can go a long way in helping younger generation
of Nurses to combine EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE WITH ASSERTIVENESS (and occasional use of a bit of disrespect when it calls for it in some special cases) to completely bulldozeour way through the heartbreaking ESTEEM DILEMMA currently being suffered by many leaders.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Younger generation of Nurses who are outrightly rude, disrespectful, arrogant,
unprofessional and illogically rebellious should not and do not have any moral justification to
point fingers at leaders. He who lives in glass house cannot throw stones.
Nurse leaders who are not comfortable with Nurses standing up all over the place in the
name of greetings are really a beauty to behold for the profession. They are the real
future of the kind of Nursing leadership we look forward to in this country.
READ THIS: Plateau State Needs Over 1,000 Additional Nurses for Effective Delivery of Healthcare Services – Plateau NANNM
Leaders are too engrossed with far more weightier issues than “Stand Up Comedies” by
Nurses. Nurse leaders who not only insists that collecting bags is not the professional
obligation of Nurses but also think it is highly unethical and unprofessional deserve some
accolades. These are the ones we should be kneeling down, prostrating and somersaulting for. We have them around, we know them, they know how much UNHYPOCRITICAL RESPECT they earn, even you see them and stay glued to your seat without standing to greet them. They know how much worth they carry and you standing or sitting does not add any value to that worth.
CALL TO ACTION
Younger generation of Nurses are still waiting on Nurse leaders across the country to
urgently declare the worsening spate of decades-long emotional abuse and bullying as
a NATIONAL EMERGENCY All over the country, the feedback is terrible. For years, Nurse leaders that matters in this country have been sitting behind closed doors at national
level discussing the affairs that concern welfare of Nurses without crucial inputs from the
Nurses they lead, especially the younger generation of Nurses who are concerned about the future of profession.
With the complete digitalization of communication by leadership and administration at the ICN level, there is an urgent need to adopt a more open door minded approach to nursing leadership in this country, bringing aggrieved nurses to the negotiating table and finding panaceas to far more crucial issues affecting the welfare of nurses We plead
with our leaders on this platform to pull their heavy weight to identify this issue as a
national emergency and as a matter of urgency kick start a monthly or quarterly digital
national dialogue where nerves will be calmed and anxiety allayed.
If something drastic is not done by nurse leaders, 2021 will be a VERY BRUTAL YEAR
FOR NIGERIAN NURSING LEADERSHIP! The hand writing are on the wall, we don’t have
to allow things to degenerate to that stage where “things completely fall apart, and the
center can no longer believe” Contrary to the “WE ARE DOING WELL FEEDBACK” that
national leaders assume or have decided to believe in the leadership world, there is real
feedback that they have decided to ignore. DOOM IS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF
NIGERIAN NURSING AND ONLY A STITCH IN TIME, CAN SAVE NINE!