Sequel to the previous article I wrote in 2018 which focused on the role of the Registrar and the NMCN in the growth of Nursing practice in Nigeria, this article will focus on the role nursing students can play in the growth of this noble profession.
Nursing can arguably be said to be one of the earliest and oldest profession on earth and in modern times have grown to be the largest in the medical field with an estimate of over 21 million professionals worldwide and over 210,000 in Nigeria alone. Nurses and midwives make up about 50% of the total health workforce globally. As such, nurses can and must have a great deal of influence on policy making and workplace politics, but that has rarely been seen as nurses through the years have had little involvement in policies that affect healthcare delivery, practice and administration.
Countering popular beliefs, Nursing, although still a hospital bedside profession, is now one of the most diverse medical profession. As the age long adage says, “The children (youths) are the leaders of tomorrow”, so also are nursing students today the leaders of this profession in the foreseeable future. The mantle of leadership would be in their hands and they will be the characters that will either make profound changes and advancement in the profession or it’s decline.
According to Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Human Behavior, it explains that an individual’s present and future behavior and actions are reflections of their past experiences and actions. Relating this to Nursing, it explains that the attitudes and behavior of nursing students today are reflections of their future practice. The skill set acquired by nursing students while in school will be essential to future practice.
How Nursing Students Can Contribute to The Growth of the Profession in Nigeria Will Be Discussed in 5 Broad Aspects;
- Grassroots Politics, Activism and Advocacy
- Use of Social Media Participation in Nursing Related Activities and Programs
- Intensive Learning and Hospital-Based Practice
- Planning to Practice(Work) in Nigeria A
- Advocating for a Unified Nursing Degree Awarding System
Grassroots Politics, Activism and Advocacy
It is known that the most effective way to influence governance is through active participation in politics and policy making. As earlier stated, it’s been observed that nurses do not participate in policy making, which is one of the reasons why we have been marginalized in healthcare politics for too long. Hence the need to participate in politics is essential through the academic years in order to prepare these young ones for what lies ahead. Nursing students should start participating in the governance of their various School Student Unions, Nursing Students’ Association amongst others. Today’s nursing students must acquaint themselves with policy issues that impacts practice, the delivery of health care, and the profession of nursing. Nursing students are urged regularly to develop increasing levels of knowledge, skills, and competencies related to health policies and advocacy which is proportionate with their advancing levels of nursing education.
Through such means, they learn the pros and cons of playing politics and enforcing positive influence in policy making. As nurses, we are not just the patients advocates but also advocates for our own profession, our colleagues, positive health policies and healthcare delivery in general.
The Use of Social Media
With the rapid advancement of cutting edge technology in recent years, it is safe to say the world is being shaped by the Internet. Psychology states that what majority of people read or see has a direct influence on their behaviors, actions and decisions. How can the use of social media help in the growth of the profession? The mass media has usually portrayed Nursing in unfavorable lights, thus leaving many with a lot of misconceptions about Nursing and nurses. The use of social media in recent times have been able to address that. One of such examples is the #whoisanurse awareness campaign on twitter and other social media in 2018. The likes of Lead Nurse Africa, Fellow Nurses Africa, Nursing Now, Nursing World Nigeria, Aghedo Princewill, Kelvin Ossai, Eze Victor Obinna, Otiojoghale Mercy Mary, Abiodun Oluwatobi amongst many others made meaningful contributions on social media using their advocacy to get rid of the many misconceptions about the profession and its members. Rather than using social media for entertainment purposes only, it is a weapon at hand to use now and in the future in promoting the professions’ growth.
Participating in Nursing Related Activities and Programs
This is essential as it keeps nursing students abreast with their colleagues. Attending and organizing health talks and services, attending and actively participating in NUNSA, NANSNM and NANNM Zonal and National conventions, seminars and signing up for professional training in some specialties is essential. Nursing Students can organize and participate in medical outreach that will help widen their knowledge and consolidate their experience in the health field.
Intensive Learning and Hospital-Based Practice
Nursing is a dynamic profession and thus requires continuous learning and practice in order to be current and grow within practice. Professional development through extended learning is essential in being a polyvalent nurse. Professional development is the process of improving practice by continuing education and training, and through continuous practice. Staying current in nursing practice is a key component of professional development. It makes the nurse competent and confident. Such developments lead to the nurses’ career advancement, recognition, promotion, positions and special appointments as well as sense of fulfillment. It is advisable that nursing students cultivate the desire to further their studies through professional programs and degrees as well as reading beyond their curriculum. Getting involved in professional training and programs right from school is a stepping stone. It is also important for nursing students to make good use of their academic days to learn the necessary skills required of competent professionals which is usually made possible when they go to the ward from time to time outside their academic schedules; reading patients case files and nursing management, asking the in-charge nurse or any competent nurse present to teach them necessary procedures and asking meaningful and thought-provoking questions, practicing what they’ve learnt under strict supervision, attending both clinical ward rounds (which comprises of all the medics involved in a patients’ case) and nursing ward rounds (which is carried out by the nurses led by the chief matron in the ward), and also learn and practice the principle of documenting and recording.
Planning to Practice (Work) in Nigeria
Ask any nursing student where they want to practice and you will be dumbfounded by the responses. Most of them are planning to work beyond the shores of Nigeria; either in Europe, The Middle East, America or Australia. Hardly will you see anyone that wants to practice in Nigeria after their internship and NYSC. I’m not kicking against anyone dreaming on working abroad (it’s really cool though if you’re fortunate) but who will be the one to move the profession forward in our dear country? In reality, not up to half of those who say they will want to practice abroad actually do. Most of them have to settle for what life brings. So why don’t we start making plans to do our best in promoting the growth of our noble profession during our academic days after graduating from nursing school?
Conclusively, the weapons of dominance are Knowledge, Media and Politics. Except we get it right using those 3 effective tools, we cannot move forward as professionals. It is high time we stopped asking and complaining about what nursing could not do for us. We should start thinking about what can we do for nursing and how we can contribute to its growth.
It’s time to CHANGE THE NARRATIVE. Only you and I can do that if we work in synergy.
By; Erokaire Oghenetega
Public Health Activist
Sustainable Development Goals Advocate; 300level Student Nurse
University of Port Harcourt
Editor: Nr. Obi Nzubechi
(BNsc, RN, RPHN)