Barbados’ nurses came in for high praise today from newly appointed Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Wendy Sealy.
In fact, as Nursing Week draws to a close the new chief nurse told Barbados TODAY she believes that specialisation within the profession, which the Ministry of Health has undertaken in recent times, could see a further professionalisation of nursing that would see the overall improvement of healthcare in the island.
“We are excellent nurses in Barbados. Only last week I had in some people who were visiting from the UK and you hear all the time, the systems that we have here, we are very fortunate. Maybe we don’t have some of the other things that the developed countries have, but when it comes to the skill of the nurses in Barbados, I think we have very skilled practitioners.
“Maybe if we had other resources that could assist them in the work that they do, they would be even better and that is where I would want to take nursing in Barbados, to that international level in all spheres, whether it be in education, whether it be in administration, management, clinical practice. I would like to see the day when the Barbados that I knew of when I entered nursing, to say that we are proud of our nurses and our nurses are respected,” Sealy said in an interview today.
The Chief Nursing Officer, who took over duties in mid-April, said in addition to the large numbers of females in the profession as well, she would like to see more males offering their services in the field.
Additionally, she said she believed the further professionalisation of the practice could be enough to convince youth, both males and females, that nursing was the kind of profession of which they could be proud.
“Our premise from the policy perspective, is that you begin as a generalist. Before we used to have single-trained midwives. Then we had a point where people just did psychiatry, but the premise is now you should be a generalist and if you then want to specialise, you then go and do a special area…
“I see the advance clinical nurse, the nurse practitioner, as just that, an advanced practice nurse. So you would have the basic training for three years and right now it is at the level of the associate degree at the Barbados Community College. The international minimum acceptance is a bachelors, and this is something proposed by the CARICOM health ministers back a few years ago that any minimum entry for nursing should be at the bachelor’s level. So whether it is at the Community College or the University of the West Indies, the entry point they are saying should be a bachelors in nursing and that has implications.”
While in her early nursing days she would have worked her way up to the bachelors degree before pursuing higher qualifications, Sealy said now the associate degree was the starting point and officials in health in Barbados and the region, were working towards the point where higher entry certification was possible.
It was there, she said, that the profession would also see greater specialisations occurring, with higher qualified nurses. (LB)