Wed | Aug 21, 2019

An urgent plea for nurses

Published:Wednesday | July 17, 2019 | 12:26 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This is an open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

To attend nursing school can cost anywhere between $2.4 million and $4 million for tuition fees only. To compound this expensive venture, the regional health authorities charge approximately $5,000 per student per semester just to ‘enter’ their facilities.

At the end of the four-year training period, many of these nurses are expected to finance their loans from the Students’ Loan Bureau, which is often in excess of $30,000 per month, and meet their day-to-day expenses out of less than $100,000 per month (before tax).

Having no way to finance these loans and take care of their day-to-day living expenses, many nurses have no option but to look to greener pastures. This migration leaves our country and health system vulnerable, as the health of a nation is its wealth.

Many of these nurses feel hard done by having to pay millions of dollars for nursing school as well as payment to the health authorities for access when they are in fact providing ‘free’ nursing care.

With this experience, many of them are of the opinion that they do not owe the country anything so they leave.

As a patriotic Jamaican and a nurse I am concerned that our best human capital is being forced to leave our shores for greener pastures, which leave our people vulnerable.

Therefore, Mr Prime Minister, to arrest this situation, your humble servant is suggesting for a start that the access fees to the regional health authorities be waived, that the Government sponsor or offer scholarships on an annual basis to at least 100 registered nursing students, bonding them for at least 3-5 years with other conditions attached. If this is done, then the country would be sure of retaining these nurses.

Erico Williams

horace.williams90@yahoo.com