Chief Nursing Officer, Sandra Barrow. (GP)

I bring greetings this day, to the nurses of Barbados and the Caribbean Region. Nurses Day is celebrated every year on a date that marks the birthday of the world famous nurse -Florence Nightingale. This day is celebrated with millions of nurses around the world and in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN).   

Last year’s theme was designated ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwives’ by the World Health Organization. I foremost give recognition to the invaluable contribution of our Nurses and Midwives in the health care system including our Ghanaian and Cuban colleagues, who joined us in the fight against COVID-19.  

Indeed, you are on the frontline during this pandemic and I salute you!  Thank you for your excellence to care, commitment and strong work ethic, provided to your patients and by extension to the country, during this time.  A good heart is always revealed in times of need and in the most difficult times, the truth of a person’s soul is seen.  Your work represents that beacon of positivity and hope in this challenging environment and in our fight to wrestle the ravages of COVID-19.

This year’s theme ‘A Voice to Lead. A Vision for Future Health Care’ sees a need to establish priority areas on which the profession should concentrate in order to prepare for future development.

The World Health Organization’s Strategic Directions on Nursing and Midwifery 2021-2025 outlines an interrelated set of policy priorities agreed upon by the Pan-American Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses.  It can help countries ensure that midwives and nurses optimally contribute to achieving universal health coverage and preparing nurses for the future.     

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted pre-existing weaknesses and inequities in countries of all income classifications.  The importance of a health workforce in responding to this and future pandemics therefore demands that the contributions of midwives and nurses to Small Island Development Goals must be optimized through a cohesive strategy that works in concert with existing approaches.  With such a strategy, we can help ensure midwives and nurses are contributing to their full capacity, on interdisciplinary health teams, striving to promote health, serve the vulnerable, and keep communities safe.

Enactment of these policy priorities can support advancement along four strategies: 1) educating midwives and nurses with competencies to meet population health needs, 2) creating jobs, managing migration, and retaining midwives and nurses where they are most needed, 3) maximizing the contributions of midwives and nurses in their practice settings and, 4) strengthening nursing and midwifery leadership throughout health and academic systems.

I am heartened to say we have also made some advancement in the area of training and education.  We have commenced our BSc. Nursing program at the Barbados Community College and our Advance Nursing Education Program at the University of the West Indies.  

(Stock Photo)

In the near future, we will commence our Advance Nursing Practitioner program in collaboration with the Chamberlain University. Education of our nurses will be a necessary foundation to addressing strengthened nurse leadership throughout the health system. We will also seek to maximize the contributions of midwives and nurses in practice settings as well as develop initiatives to manage migration.

Nurses serve in many communities and in different settings. Specialized nursing can serve as a necessary adjunct to functioning in diverse arenas. We must serve as change agents for creating systems that bridge the delivery of healthcare and to identify and adopt nursing practices for the elimination of gaps and disparities.

A critical role of the profession therefore, is ensuring the voice of individuals, families and communities are incorporated into the design, operation and pathways for care.

Training and competency development is necessary overall to prepare nurses, and in particular the advance practice nurses to work outside acute care settings.  Our focus will be to lead efforts to build a culture of healthcare in the community. One which supports comprehensive community based interventions against sound public health practices, with appropriately trained human resources and technology. The training of nurses and their impact on healthcare, is also critical to their response to emergencies that arise due to natural and fabricated disasters.

Nursing for the future will be a dynamic and exciting endeavor. I urge you: Embrace new clinical technology, focus on professional development and seek out opportunities to increase knowledge and gain expertise. You are our champions for a better, healthier future and together we continue on our path to provide comprehensive quality health care.  Again. I salute you!

I leave you with this quote from the poem Desiderata: “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time”.

Sandra Barrow
Chief Nursing Officer

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