— deputy chief medical officer urges nurses
AT a time when Guyana, like many other countries, is experiencing an epidemiological transitioning from infectious diseases being the most prevalent causes of death to chronic diseases, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Gordon-Boyle has said that nurses must remain true to the profession despite the many challenges.
In Guyana, the top five most prevalent causes of death are linked to chronic diseases. Chronic heart diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes and related complications and cancer are among the country’s leading causes of morbidity, disability and mortality, the DCMO pointed out, as she delivered the featured address at the Guyana Nurses Association (GNA) Annual Awards Ceremony on Saturday.
“This change in our epidemiological profile implies that there will be an increasing demand for healthcare and rehabilitation services, in addition to the medical treatment of diseases,” Dr. Gordon-Boyle posited.
For her, the increased demand for care and support is an indication that the country must step up to the challenge and improve the quality of health services, including the quality of nursing care.
“Our system depends heavily on our nurses. You are the backbone of our health system and are uniquely placed to be a voice to reckon with,” the DCMO told the nurses present as she alluded to the International Nurses Day (IND) theme for 2017 – “Nurses: A Voice to Lead; Achieving the SDGs.”
“If you are to lead, you must ensure you are in a position to inspire others to follow! If your voice is to be one others will take the time to listen to, then you must demonstrate your leadership capacity wherever you are planted — whether you are as nurse assistant, nurse aide, midwife, staff nurse, tutor, medex or senior health visitor, your professionalism, ability to be a team player, commitment to the welfare of your patients and colleagues, passion for what you do, going beyond the call of duty are the attributes that will inspire others to respect you and listen,” she added.
However, Dr. Gordon-Boyle said despite the fact that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, Guyana has a shortfall of nurses by at least 50 per cent, primarily at key health institutions.
Unfortunately, she said, the country’s human resource shortages have forced nurses to take either of two choices: “The first is to throw up their hands in surrender and to do just the minimum requirements to get by or the second option… to dig in and utilise and develop their full potential, stretching the scope of their functions far beyond their defined scope of work.”
Nurses, she emphasised, must decide which type of nurse they want to be.
“Are you the nurse who sees nursing only as a job that pays the bills and perhaps may one day provide an opportunity to get out of Guyana? Or, are you the quintessential professional who sees your performance on the job as an extension of who you are — seeking excellence at every task, not because the patient demands it of you, but because you demand it of yourself?” she asked.
Reflecting on her days as a young doctor, Dr. Gordon-Boyle said dedicated nurses like Nurse Alexander and Nurse Cato taught her the importance of nursing care and midwifery among other important elements of the profession.
“Do not underestimate your value as nurses. Research has proven time and again that nurse practitioners are rated as good as and sometimes better than physicians by patients. Usually, it is the nurse that spends more time with a patient and therefore has a greater opportunity to impact their health through education, health promotion, care and home visits,” she pointed out.
Urging them not to underestimate their worth and potential to influence others, the DCMO called on the nurses to be a voice to be reckoned with.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
“Lead as an individual, a professional and a team player! Lead by example!”
The country’s Chief Nursing Officer Tarramattie Barker, in her remarks, echoed the DCMO’s sentiments.
Barker noted that nurses must remain professional, dedicated and trustworthy in the execution of their duties.
GNA President Veronica Douglas, delivering brief remarks, said the work of nurses, nursing assistants, midwives and other nursing personnel have not gone unnoticed, pointing out that annually GNA gives recognition to nurses who continue to stand the test of time.
It was also pointed out that as part of Guyana’s 51st Independence anniversary, President David Granger presented Sister Rhoda Amelia Stephne Clarke with the Golden Arrow of Achievement and Sister Joan Anges Fredericks with the Medal of Service for their outstanding service in the nursing profession. Sister Clarke and Sister Fredericks were among the 31 women from various fields conferred with national awards this year by President Granger.
Meanwhile, for the awards, Victorene Martin-Pereira was presented with the Gloria Noel Award for quality nursing care, while the Gillian Butts-Garnett Award was presented to Jennifer Peterkin for being the most outstanding member of the GNA.
The GNA Award for Quality Nursing Care went to Karen Carew. Odonna Osborne, Ardis Wilson, Judy Parks and Yholana Calder were awarded for maintaining high standards of nursing care, while Carleen Van Nooten, Tristar Rose and Osiola Gilbert were recognised for their contributions to the development of the association. A special award was also presented to Shanna Haynes.
The final award – the June Trotman-Ward Award — went to Latoya Kellman for being the most improved graduate midwife.
Bursary awards were also presented to several children who successfully completed the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and whose parents are members of the nursing association.