Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ghana's nurses

Author's Statement:I am probably going to step on a few toes with this post, but the truth is the truth and needs to be said.I do not believe in sugar-coating, and so I apologise in advance for my bluntness and if I offend anyone.Also, this post does not imply that there are no good nurses or teachers.There are, and things are slowly changing to train better teachers and nurses.If you are one of the good ones,please keep it up and stay focused on helping others.

Akosua was pregnant with her first child.It had been a difficult pregnancy to say the least, and she was just about ready to have the baby and be done with it.As she lay in the hospital bed catching her breath and waiting for the next wave of contractions, she prayed again that she would walk safely out of the hospital with her child healthy.She tried not to be afraid, but it was difficult especially since the woman in the bed next to hers had died during her delivery just a couple of hours before then.Considering how long she had been in labour,she was very afraid of what could happen to her and the child if she didn't deliver soon.Another wave of contractions hit her, and she fought to endure the pain.This time though, the pain would not stop and just kept increasing in magnitude.She gritted her teeth and tried not to scream or cry, since the nurses had told her to endure the pain when she arrived.She tried her best, but the pain was unbearable and she couldn't help but scream.She kept screaming and screaming, then called to the nurse on duty to please help her.
The nurse on duty was bored out of her mind.She was on the phone talking to her friend about the new doctor when the lady in  the ward began screaming and calling to her.That was so annoying!Did she not know she was making noise and disturbing her phone call?Besides, she had already warned this patient to keep from making noise.This was just labour, having a baby, no big deal.Why was she being such a wimp and making noise?Muttering under her breath and complaining to her colleague nurse (who was browsing Facebook), she stalked over to Akosua to give her a piece of her mind.

This is just a hypothetical scenario that happens everyday in hospitals throughout Ghana.The reality is far worse than this, and it makes my skin crawl to remember some of these stories told to me by friends who have had to be hospitalised or visit the hospital for routine procedures.Why do we hear such horror stories all the time?Why are nurses treating patients without any compassion or professionalism?
I have a simple theory, and its my personal opinion.You're allowed to agree or disagree, but this is my opinion.The educational system in Ghana is responsible.
There are 4 tiers of high school graduates: the top 20-40% will go to college/university,next 40-80% will go to polytechnics,the next 10% will go to a nursing or a teacher training school.If you're considered at the very bottom, then you don't get to continue with a formal education at all.
Consider this.You are unable to get good grades in your Science and Math classes, but your only options are to become a nurse, a teacher  or to consider a career in fashion or something informal.
How can a country commit their whole healthcare system into the hands of students who were unable to grasp even the basic concepts of Science?How can we trust them to take of us when they are forced into this profession because they have limited options?Why then do we complain that our nurses are unprofessional and lack compassion?
We need to decide as a nation that we want excellent students in the nursing profession.We need to set the standard so high, that nursing students will be selected as if they were medical doctors.We shouldn't be gambling with the lives of the helpless and weak in our society by simply training academically inept individuals to run our hospitals and clinics.We need to remember people like Akosua, and be intentional about the kind of people we allow near our loved ones when they're sick.People who actually WANT to be nurses, who have some compassion and sympathy for those in pain, who actually know what 10cc of a drug is, and who understand that they aren't just working for money,they are helping people!Until we fix this problem with our educational system, I do not foresee a better breed of nurses being produced than we already have..and complain about.