Remedial training is being introduced to the nursing programme at the Barbados Community College from September to assist graduates who have been failing the regional nursing examination.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, said this was one of the decisions taken as Government seeks to address the nursing shortage in Barbados.
During a recent interview, Lt. Col. Bostic said: “It took a lot of effort to get to the bottom of this problem and we are at the point now where we recognize where the problems are. With the assistance of the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training we’ve been able to get the Barbados Community College to put on remedial training for persons who have failed and are preparing to take the next regional exam.”
He said that nurses who will be taking the regional examination for the first time will also benefit from the training which will address “the disconnect” between the syllabus at BCC and what was expected in terms of preparation for the regional examination.
He welcomed the efforts to deal with the issue, noting: “I felt that something had to be wrong because traditionally Barbadians do well in examinations, especially when you look at the region, and in fact, we have a worldwide reputation for producing students who do well in examinations.
“But for some reason in this one examination we were at the bottom of the table in the region so I had to deal with that. That was something that the Ministry of Health and Wellness really took up and I am happy to say that I believe that we will be able to fix that in the coming months.”
Minister Bostic also addressed the issue of Barbadian nurses emigrating to metropolitan countries, noting: “To some extent that has contributed to the shortage but that is something that we cannot fight. We cannot, based on our resources, provide for our nurses or any profession in the same way that those countries can so we are fighting a losing battle.
“I think the important thing is to be able to train more nurses, some for export, and some for domestic and regional use, and that instead of looking at that as a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to generate some foreign exchange for this country through remittances from the very nurses who go abroad.”
He further pointed out that some of them will return to Barbados after spending time in larger hospitals dealing with more complex tasks and the health care system in Barbados will benefit from their experience.
The Health and Wellness Minister said that Government had taken some policy initiatives which would encourage more nurses to remain at home, including the establishment of 10 posts for specialist nurses, as well as the higher level family nurse practitioner post, which would allow Barbados “to retain our best nurses in the technical field rather than have to promote them into administrative posts for their betterment, but to the detriment of the service.”
He also spoke of collaborations with Ross University and its sister faculty, the Chamberlain University, as well as other offshore medical universities “to build out and develop the nursing sector in such a way that Barbados could truly become a medical centre of excellence”.