Midwives preparing to share information about the profession.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
There are serious concerns about the lack of BVIslanders taking up positions in the healthcare service and with the new Peebles Hospital being built, there is the realization that the Territory will have to import labour to fill new jobs, especially in the area of nursing.
Nursing Director of Peebles Hospital, Jacinth Campbell-Hannibal said that amendments are needed to the Nurse Practice Act and the community also needs to encourage more young persons to enter the profession.
"I would encourage as a community that we need to guide our young people into the healthcare profession," Campbell-Hannibal said in response to questions during a meeting organized by the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) last Wednesday, August 29.
"We are building a hospital; it is having a lot more beds than we currently have...we are going to need to staff it. Unfortunately, when we look at nursing, most of the nurses we have currently practicing in the BVI are not BVIslanders and while we are thankful for these persons to come and contribute to our society, I still believe that care must start at home and we must take care of our own. Our young people must be headed to healthcare. We are doing our best to guide persons; to bring persons into the healthcare profession, but as a community we have to do more to encourage more persons to enter the profession," Campbell-Hannibal stated.
She gave the example of a mother who told her daughter that nursing was not for her, although the daughter wanted to enlist as a nurse.
"A lot of persons have approached me in relation to coming into nursing, but what they want to do is to just come out of high school and go into nursing. You really cannot do that. You must have a science background and you must be able to demonstrate that you have the capacity care, because healthcare now is not what it used to be back in the day. There are a lot of maths and a lot of science you have to go through in order to become a registered nurse," Campbell-Hannibal stated.
She said that there are currently 12 persons who have completed nurse training, but will remain overseas to get some work experience before returning to the Territory. However, Campbell-Hannibal said that while the Ministry of Health has been supportive in providing scholarship funding, the number of persons signing up is just "a drop in the bucket".
She stated that the BVIHSA has attended career days at the high school and at the college and they have also invited persons to come to Peebles and shadow a nurse for a day before they decide if nursing is a profession they want to pursue.
"A lot of times nurses are not respected in the community. We do try our best; we work very hard. There are times when you are doing your best and people just decide to tell you off. It is not encouraging. I remember when I came to the BVI first walking on the street going to work in your uniform, anybody would stop and take you to work even though they were going in the opposite direction. That doesn't happen anymore. As a community we want to gear our people to go into nursing. As a parent we want to encourage our people to go into nursing," Campbell-Hannibal stated.
However, one resident noted that the nurses on Virgin Gorda are well respected and they do get rides without asking.
Meanwhile, Campbell-Hannibal said that currently, the system employs licensed practical nurses (LPN); however, according to the Nurse Practice Act, they cannot employ them as a LPN.
She stated that LPNs can only be registered as a nursing assistant, which is lower than industry standards elsewhere.
"If you are a LPN practicing elsewhere and come to the BVI to be employed a s a nursing assistant, it's very demotivating. You are practicing at a lower level. It's very demotivating...there is a huge disparity," Campbell-Hannibal stated.
She stated that one of the proposals that have been made is to train persons at a lower level similar to a patient care assistant, who would be able to work under the guidance of a registered nurse.
She said that proposals have been made to amend the Act.