250 nurses every 3 years insufficient for growing health sector – Dr Anthony

The Minister and other nursing professionals during the launch of the CNE programme

The Nurses and Midwives Council (NMC) has officially launched its Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) programme for nurses, midwives and nursing assistants, to enhance their professional competence.
Speaking with this publication at the simple launching ceremony on Wednesday, Chairperson of the NMC, Nicola Nero, shared that the programme would be continuous, and has been implemented for nurses and midwives to improve their knowledge and skills in each category of their work.
“The CNE, Continuing Nursing Education, it’s an activity where nurses who would have already been trained and registered with the Nurses and Midwives Council will have the opportunity now to improve their knowledge and skills in whichever category, respective of registered nurses, midwives, as well as nursing assistants and specialty areas, to improve their nursing competency to actually deliver care at health facilities in a more effective and efficient (manner) tailored to the needs of the patient,” Nero explained.
She added, “It will be offered all the time, and so we will have quarterly sessions throughout the year on different topic areas, and we will also have the sessions or the topics based on the level of the different categories; which would be the midwives, the registered nurses, as well as the nursing assistants.”
Additionally, this programme would be accessible online. Nero emphasised that it is mandatory for all nurses and midwives to register and complete twelve (12) contact hours, which is equivalent to three (3) credits of training per year. Proof of participation must also be presented to the Council before the person can be relicensed.

More nurses
During the launch of the programme, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony highlighted the need for more nurses as the Government continues to expand its healthcare facilities across the country.
“Our capacity at our three nursing schools is only about 250 persons every three years. That’s not enough, because we…have been expanding our health infrastructure. So, all these places would require more persons, because these services would be run on a 24-hour basis. We will have more specialties at these facilities, and that would require more nurses than we currently have,” the Health Minister pointed out.
The Minister also highlighted the Ministry’s three-year hybrid programme with Coursera, which will see persons completing their nursing education virtually.
“One of the programmes that we are starting is a hybrid programme where the Ministry, in partnership with Coursera, we are going to offer the Registered Nursing programme online. We have put out a call to people who are interested in nursing to apply, and I must say we have gotten very good responses. We’re almost close to that 1000 we want to start with, and we are going to start shortly. What we will have is theory online, and then when we need to do the practical component, we’ll build out some simulation centres across the country so that nurses can come here and do the practical component,” Anthony explained.
Additionally, he said, there are a number of other programmes aimed at boosting the human resources of the healthcare sector, as he revealed that a newly revised curriculum for the Nursing Assistant programme is currently being developed by Mount Sinai, and it would reduce the training time.
“We also recognise that we need to train more Nursing Assistants, and we had Mount Sinai look at our Assistant Nursing Programme. It’s 18 months right now, and they feel very confident that, without compromising the training and the content that is there, we can reduce the time it will take to train someone. So, from 18 months, they feel we can bring that down to 12 months, so they’re working on a revised curriculum for us.
“It should be done within a month or so. That is something that we would work with the Council, and once it’s accepted, then this is another programme that we’ll roll out,” Minister Anthony has said.
He is encouraging persons to take up positions as administrative professionals within the healthcare sector, and has revealed that 25 persons are currently being trained as administrative professionals at York University in Canada. He said their training would conclude in June. Once that programme concludes in June, the opportunity would be given to interested persons who wish to pursue a career in that field.
He noted, too, that the Health Ministry is also working with the United Kingdom to train biomedical technicians, and will soon roll out an ultrasound technician programme and a postgraduate programme for nurses. Works are also underway to upgrade some of the existing nursing schools across the country.
“We also want to train… specialised nurses, and we’re opening up new opportunities for these types of specialisation. We have started a number of partnerships, and there have been a lot of opportunities for people to go and immerse themselves in other institutions abroad, so that we can understand how those institutions function and hopefully we can bring back some of those techniques to work in our sector,” the Minister remarked.
It was also announced that the Ministry is currently exploring options for offering post-graduate programmes for nurses to participate in fellowship training at McMaster University in Canada.