Sweeping changes –Lawrence calls for changes in nursing school programme

Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence


A RE-EXAMINATION of contracts offered to nursing tutors, as well as a curriculum review of the professional nursing programme are among several measures to reverse the dismal failure rate at the Professional Nurses State Final Examination.

It was revealed that the student nurses in the last examination failed mainly section two of the examination paper, which required reasoning.

According to a release from the Ministry of Public Health on Friday, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence demanded of the Guyana Nursing Council that sweeping policy changes be made, with an eye on reversing students’ dismal performances at the exams.

Officials of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), including its Director, Jennifer Cumberbatch and Chief Test Development Officer, Deon Farrell also attended the meeting at the minister’s office on Brickdam.

“We will not have a repeat of this poor student performance, “Lawrence said at the meeting.

She suggested that the Nursing Council hold a retreat with tutors to help analyse the nature of the problem. It will also serve as a form of therapy for both groups.

Cumberbatch and Farrell both revealed that students’ worse performance was in Paper II of the examination, which required higher-order reasoning such as explaining and evaluating.

The students “performed well” on questions demanding a recall of content, the release stated.

Lawrence called for a probe into the teaching methodologies and strategies by the nursing tutors. Pedagogical changes are expected to be highlighted among the raft of proposed changes to be submitted by Director of Health Sciences Education, Wilton Benn. He is expected to present a blueprint of the proposed changes to improve the nursing sector next month to Lawrence.

Benn also promised to deliver the document and pleaded with the minister “for patience” with the sector as they move to end the crisis.

Despite the poor performances, the release stated that the ministry is willing to ensure that the students continue to receive stipends until they re-write the exam later in the year.

Lawrence reminded that the students “had expectations and expenses” when they enrolled into the professional programme.

In addition, it was noted the Public Health Ministry is willing to help fund ideas which will help students succeed in the profession and the nursing sector, while permanently reversing the high failure rate among its intake.

“This is my burden,” Lawrence said.

The Pan American Health Organisation / World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), a major supporter of the country’s health sector is “less than enthusiastic” by the latest high failure rate by local nurses in training, the ministry noted.

It said that Lawrence is expected to meet with officials in Washington next week.

In 2014, only 19 out of 267 students passed the test, the ministry noted, adding that the failure rate has been a challenge for Guyana for a number of years.
Guyana Nursing Council officials have said the problem is region-wide.

Local nursing students can re-sit the examinations three times. If they fail on the third occasion, they can retake the test but in a private capacity.