Nursing students are failing the course at a “horrendous” rate, threatening the nursing system, the head of the nurse’s association has told Barbados TODAY.
And the President of the Barbados Nurses Association, Joannah Waterman, has called for the re-establishing of a school of nursing – more than 30 years after it was absorbed into the general education system.
She revealed that out of 31 students entered to set the Regional Examination for Nurses Registration, only four students – a mere 11 per cent – passed the examination.
Also describing the pass rate as “the worst rate yet”, Waterman added that the shortage of graduates from the Community College was crippling.
Waterman said: “The impact of these low pass rates is contributing to the decrease of nursing personnel available per service and therefore presents a problem for efficient delivery of patient care.”
The BNA head, who is herself a part-time Community College tutor disclosed that the “problematic” high failure rates was recognized by educators and facilitators in 2003 when the intake of students increased to 120 to facilitate the demand for nurses. But the large roll, coupled with a lack of resources and staff, has affected the programme.
“The mandate of the then government was to increase numbers in an effort to fulfill service needs,” Waterman said. “It is very necessary to fulfill service needs but what did not happen at that time was the commencement of resources, human and otherwise, that was needed for efficient delivery of the programme to this large number of students.”
Most of the graduates had struggled to pass the fundamental nursing courses and had to repeat other subjects in order to make the grade, the BRNA president told Barbados TODAY.
Waterman also revealed that the preceptorship programme, in which studentnurses are guided by veterans, was ineffective because the number of students assigned to the care institutions overwhelmed supervisors at the hospitals and clinics facing high patient loads.
Waterman said: “The most critical component of the nursing programme is really clinical . . . . The students rotate through the settings of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and different institutions according to the objective and skills that have to be achieved and so a major deficiency is the large number of students being attached to one acute care institution and no structured preceptorship programme.
“The present ratio of clinical instructors to students has never been adequate and in fact, the clinicians in the field are therefore relied on to teach and supervise students while managing their patient care loads in the face of acute shortages within the institution.”
She noted Prime Minister Mottley’s talks with the American, for-profit healthcare and nursing school, Chamberlain University – a member of the Adtalem Global Education which owns Ross University School of Medicine.
Waterman told Barbados TODAY that the BRNA has sent the Prime Minister an outline of the corrective measures needed to reduce or eliminate the present failure rates.
She stressed that Barbados needed its own nursing school that would engage students and address their weaknesses as well maintain a faculty of well-qualified clinical tutors and instructors with the skills and experience for teaching, mentoring and coaching nursing students.