- Norman Grindley/Staff Photographer
National Academy on Duke Street, one of the schools which has sought certification.
Claude Mills, Staff Reporter
HUNDREDS OF nursing students are running the risk of squandering their tuition fees at the rash of practical nursing institutions with inadequate credentials set up all over the country .
Schools for the training of practical nurses have been operating for several years outside of the ambit of the ministries of Health or Education. In many schools, there are no standardised curricula, matriculation requirements or set hours for practical training, yet the media are littered with ads for these schools. None of these schools is affiliated or recognised by the Nursing Council of Jamaica.
"A lot of these unregistered schools have misled their students. They tell them that they are registered by the Nursing Council of Jamaica when they are not. Then after the students graduate, they call the NAJ, and I have to tell them that there is no registry for practical nursing. We can do nothing for them," Patricia Ivers, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, said. "A lot of students leave these schools and find that they cannot get jobs. Eventually some do, but there are so many students being trained that it is sometimes hard for them to secure jobs."
The Government sometimes employs practical nurses as ward assistants or aides at the major public hospitals. However, most of them work in Government-run nursing homes for the elderly or offer home-based care at the rate of $100 per hour. Others opt to go overseas to cash in on opportunities for trained nurses there.
"But practical nurses have limitations to what they can do. They can bathe and give care but are not allowed to give injections, or do anything that pertains to pharmacology," Mrs. Ivers said.
Checks revealed that even long-standing institutions like Doncaster Nursing Home in East Kingston are not registered independent schools or have not applied for accreditation or certification from the HEART Trust/NTA.
Matron A. V. Hyatt, principal of one of the largest schools, the Doncaster School of Practical Nursing, told The Sunday Gleaner that her students were quite satisfied with the present state of affairs even though the school has not made an effort to seek accreditation from the Government.
"We have been operating for many years, and I have never had any complaints," she said. "We are one of the oldest and largest practical nursing schools. The nurses, the doctors, and the Government and social sector are satisfied with how my students turn out. I am satisfied with my students, my nurses are satisfied with the training, and at least I try to find employment for my students, blast everyone else!" And abruptly ended the discussion.
She declined any further attempts to gain an interview.
Clover Jarrett of the Health, Educational and Counselling Institute in Spanish Town, is concerned that non-accredited institutions may be doing a 'disservice to the nursing profession'.
"We are concerned that there are several students out there who are graduating who are not adequately prepared to nurse our people," she said. "Many of these institutions do not have Government tutors or trained RNs or public health tutors to implement a practical nursing programme for young students. Still, even though a lot of students start off not having the proper CXC qualifications to enter general nursing, with guidance, and
hard work, they can become very competent.
"I wish that more people would adhere to standards so that we can gain more respect for the profession." The Health, Educational and Counselling Institute in Spanish Town is one of the few schools which offer NCT/VET certification.