With the high failure rate of Barbadian nursing students taking the regional nurses’ examination presenting a major stumbling block to the country’s ability to address its chronic nursing shortage, Government is overhauling its approach to this critical qualifying test.
This afternoon Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic told Barbados TODAY that Government has taken steps to address the longstanding gap between the syllabus taught at the Barbados Community College nursing school and the one required to prepare for the regional tests, which are adMinistered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). In addition, persons taking the exam will have a fourth bite of the cherry, instead of the three failed attempts and you are out rule.
“I will like to say that we are at the point where we will begin the process of reversing that trajectory. The staff at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, along with myself, have been spending the last several months really investigating the issues surrounding this problem and we have been able to determine exactly where the problems are. In fact, just today I was meeting with a batch of 30 nursing graduates, who had not passed the regional exam,” said Bostic, who was wrapping up a tour of the just refurbished Randal Phillips Polyclinic, which will be reopened on Monday after a five-week closure.
Bostic added, “We have had dialogue with the principal of the Barbados Community College, we have met with the Caribbean Examination Council and some retired nurses have been assisting us as well. We are at the point where the Barbados Community College would be executing a programme of remedial training for graduates who would have failed the nursing examination. We have been able, through our representative attending the Regional Nursing Council, to get the number of chances extended from three to four. Most importantly for me is the fact that we have now been able to align the syllabus at the BCC with the expectations of the regional exam.”
The Minister explained that for years the BCC has been preparing its nursing students for its internal exams while totally ignoring the regional exam, which is key to their ability to practice their chosen profession. He also expressed dismay that this was allowed to continue unchecked for this long. So confident is the Minister in the solution, that he told Barbados TODAY that he expects to see results as early as October this year.
“Community College was preparing people to pass the Community College exam but there was no real relationship between that process and what was being adMinistered by CXC. We have now put all of these things together and I expect that we will begin to see a reversal of this trend from October,” said Bostic.
He further contended, “I am confident because our nurses have the capacity and the ability. But you cannot have a high success rate in an examination that you are not prepared for and that is what has been happening for the last decade. I am not saying this in any political sense but the last decade was when this issue really started to surface.”
Currently the nursing shortage has become so critical that it has hindered the full rollout of several initiatives in the Ministry of Health and has resulted in Prime Minister Mia Mottley taking the decision to recruit 400 nurses from Ghana to fill the present void. [email protected]