UG to administer nursing programme
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Nursing students at the Georgetown School of Nursing (File Photo)
Nursing students at the Georgetown School of Nursing (File Photo)

…as gov’t moves to revamp course

AMID alarming failure rates, the Public Health Ministry is moving ahead with plans to revamp the Registered Nursing
Programme in Guyana, with the aim of offering it at the level of the University of Guyana as against the Nursing School.

In an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Principal of the Georgetown School of Nursing Cleopatra Barkoye, disclosed that the Public Health Ministry is collaborating with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), University of Guyana (UG) Faculty of Health Sciences and a Brazilian University to have lecturers and nurses train at the Master’s and Doctoral levels in the field of Nursing.

Barkoye explained that the authorities, through this initiative, are setting the foundation for the Registered Nursing Programme to be transferred to the University of Guyana by harnessing the calibre of lecturers needed for such a significant move. Eight lecturers and nurses with first degrees will be selected for the Master’s Programme, while five persons, who have already acquired their Master’s, will be selected for the Doctoral Programme.
A team from the University in Brazil will be here in Guyana by July, 2017 for the final selection. The Faculty of Health Sciences has already shortlisted the applicants. The first batch of nurses and lecturers will commence their studies in September, 2017.

Though the majority of the Nursing Tutors have acquired their Bachelors of Science Degrees in Nursing, and collectively have more than 300 years of experience under their belts, Principal Barkoye said there is still a great need to sharpen their skills. In 2015, a Nursing Tutor Certificate Training Programme was initiated with the primary support of PAHO, to boost their capacity. This new programme being embarked on by the Public Health Ministry is necessary, and will help to fast track the process, Principal Barkoye stated.
“The Caribbean and the world at large have left us behind. They are two steps ahead of us. They are saying that really and truly the Registered Nursing Programme is done at universities, so I am pleased that we are moving in this direction as a CARICOM nation,” she posited.

Principal of the Georgetown School of Nursing, Cleopatra Barkoye

Once the tutors are adequately qualified, the principal tutor said the Public Health Ministry will take the necessary steps to have the Registered Nursing Programme dissolved at the level of the schools and offered only at the Bachelor’s level at the University of Guyana.
“When you have a bachelor’s, you have a wider scope of knowledge, and you will recognise that research is really important because that is how we practise,” she posited.
However, while the Registered Nursing Programme will be offered at the level of the university, the Post-Basic Midwifery Programme, the Direct Entry Midwifery Programme, and the Nursing Assistant Programme will still be taught at the level of the school.

“While there is still a need for the school, the Registered Nursing Programme must move beyond the school, because that is where the world is; and if we stay here we will always keep ourselves behind. If the world is moving, we have to move with it,” Principal Barkoye said.
In Guyana, the Registered Nursing Programme is complemented by a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programme, which is offered at the University of Guyana for a period of two years. The Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing commenced in 2002 under the leadership of Gwendolin Tross – a veteran in the field of health education and nursing.

Commenting on the state-of-affairs of nursing in Guyana, Barkoye contended that the system has failed the nurses that are in training. According to reports, the 2016 Professional Nurses State Final Examination, which had to be re-taken earlier this year, had a failure rate of 90 per cent. Barkoye is maintaining that it was the system that failed the nursing students. “We don’t have enough lecturers in the classroom, in none of the schools. We don’t have enough materials.

The curriculum specifies that you must have a clinical instructor, we don’t have any clinical instructor in Georgetown and New Amsterdam, what we have are clinical supervisors,” the principal tutor pointed out. Painting a vivid picture of the situation, Barkoye disclosed that the Georgetown School of Nursing has 343 students with only seven tutors. “For every 20 students, you need one lecturer, that is what the system requires,” she posited.
Due to the shortage of tutors across the three nursing schools – the Georgetown School of Nursing, the Charles Roza School of Nursing in Linden and the New Amsterdam School of Nursing – there is not room for specialisation and tutors are forced to “teach too many things at once.”

However, Principal Barkoye said there is indication that things are going to get better for both students and tutors. She pointed out that following the high failure rate, the Public Health Ministry in collaboration with PAHO held a retreat with the primary players, including the students, to determine what are the loopholes within the system, and the avenues that can be taken to address those problems.

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