In this article you will read on The Silent Weep Of The Graduate Nurse
THE SILENT WEEP OF THE GRADUATE NURSE
I had the feeling that one of the greatest tests of life is to be an African, and more so, a Nigerian, but lately I realized that one of the most traumatic experiences in life is being a graduate Nurse in Nigeria. That’s because hardly will you find a set of people who are arguably the most overworked and underpaid, despite undergoing rigorous training of seven years at the minimum, with little or no time for themselves, giving up their energy, and skills and putting their safety and lives on the line all in a bid to promote, sustain and regain the health of the populace yet so relegated to abysmal position in the health system, commanding little if any respect in the society and neglected by the authorities like the Nurses. To further intricate the issue, the graduate nurse receives a heavy blow from within the house from some obsolete fellows stuck in the dark age who are infatuated with absolute ”philophobia”. They hate knowledge themselves and hate it for others. They cherish and nourish mediocrity through clinging unto some archaic ritualistic chores with weak, outdated or no basis at all as the cores of nursing practice making it impossible for initiatives and innovation and sparing no effort in seeing that no ray of new knowledge finds its way into their quarters.
Research and experimentation to them are rocket science, waste of time or at best, the work of physician despite enormous data at their disposal.
In May 2016, while I was in the University, I received a call from the then NUNSA National President, Sani Takalmawa informing me that the Council on Establishment had just approved the long awaited, overdue internship for the graduate Nurse after all the crinkum-crankum and rejection and dejections that preceded; It was a course sought for at least ten years. It was indeed a “dream come true”; the tag of our Nurses week that year. Our euphoria was short-lived however as no sooner than we received the approval came the controversial circular ever from the office of the head of civil service of the Federation stating among other things that graduate nurse interns were to be placed a level below all other interns in the allied health professions who spend the same duration of studies. At first we thought it was an oversight and we were reassured when we consulted with the Head of Department that the head of civil service had been notified and that it will soon be corrected, insisting that internship was not taking off unless the correction had been effected.
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A month passed by, another and another, but naught. We consoled ourselves hoping by the next Council on establishment Meeting it would be ameliorated but our ”balloons were busted” again. A few hospitals were set to commence internship after pestering and cajolement from heads of Nursing departments. The directors of the various institutions were courteous enough to offer to recruit nurse interns at par with other interns if only there was a legal backing for that, but alas! It was synonymous to finding a ghost; impossible. We were recruited a level below other interns with the same years of training implying three years seniority in service. Wow! Did you hear that? Same duration of training, three years seniority! What a perfect equality!
A question that readily comes to mind is “where is the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM?” Guess what? They are very complacent with that. They seem unperturbed. To them, it serves us right for going to the Universities. That’s our only crime.
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Those same set of people refused to offer any form of assistance when we visited them in Abuja during the struggle for internship approval. They ended up threatening to do everything at their disposals to see that the aim wasn’t achieved. There was no need for internship left to them, perhaps as it would further widen the already existing gap between graduate and non-graduate nurses. They were however quick at publicizing the approval and felicitating with nurses in order to claim the credit. Four years after the approval, no one is bothered. JOHESU has been on strike and NANNM did not deem it fit to table this issue.
Hospitals nowadays employ all other allied health professionals on Grade Level 10 (CONHESS 9) while Nurses are employed on Grade Level 9 (CONHESS 8) but who cares?
Finally, I want to state that there is no injustice as great as making two equal things unequal. Graduate nurses are highly skilled and intellectual professionals who are indispensable in the health team in whom a great deal of the future of Nigerian health Sector lies. If they do not deserve accolades, they sure do not deserve persecution and condemnation. .I hereby call on all well meaning Nigerians to prevail in the authorities concerned to make amends for this great mistake tremendous alacrity
Writer: USMAN M. USMAN ( RN, RPHN, BNSC, MSc In View)