Keeping nurses in Caribbean a challenge says expert

| 15/08/2011

(CNS): Chairperson for the Regional Nursing Body (RNB) and Chief Nursing Officer for Jamaica, Dr. Leila McWhinney-Dehaney said that Caribbean governments need to implement retention strategies to keep nurses in the region. “Incentives such as improved working conditions, better salaries, and friendly, comfortable practice environments would bring out the best in our professionals,” she said last week at the 38th Annual General Meeting of the RNB held in Cayman. “Access to training for specialist nursing positions like critical care and nephrology, as well as bachelor and master’s degree programmes all benefits which – if packaged properly – will help convince our nurses to opt for employment at home.”

The Cayman Islands Chief Nursing Officer Hazel Brown said steps were being taken regionally to implement at least one such incentive. She said the assembly would be looking at nursing education and regional progress to introduce bachelor-level programmes. The nursing curriculum is to be reviewed and discussions continue with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), which now has responsibility for the regional nursing registration exams. 

Quoting a World Bank report during his address at the meeting Cayman’s health minister, Mark Scotland said only 25 percent of nurses in the English-speaking Caribbean work in their own countries.

“One of the most worrying trends concerns the continuing worldwide shortage of nurses,” he said. “It is important that we address such issues with urgency, for related activities and developments may well hinge upon how many nurses are likely to be available over the next three decades.”

Scotland explained that steps were already being taken to introduce a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI).

The regional meeting attracted delegates from Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Jamaica, Surinam, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Rudolph Cummins represented the CARICOM Secretariat, while local representatives from the Cayman Islands Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Cayman Islands Nursing Association also attended. 

The RNB was conceptualized in 1959 and inaugurated in 1972 within the Caribbean Community Secretariat. It comprises all chief nursing officers of CARICOM member states. The body’s purpose is to update and advise health ministries on matters relating to health and nursing, and to improve areas of nursing education and service within the Caribbean. It has been an important regional force in advancing education, practice, research and policy agenda, relative to nursing and midwifery.  

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Lets see the Minister and Nurse Brown put the money where their mouth is and qualify our Caymanians who want to studing nursing but get little or no support from the HSA in this regards.