Just over 30 years ago, Acting Director of Nursing Services (DNS) at the Princess Margaret Hospital in St. Thomas, Nadine Anderson-Lawrence, was on her way to becoming a teacher but changed her mind in midstream.
The registered nurse of 28 years tells JIS News how she entered a profession that she did not even consider while growing up, and is totally at peace with her decision.
“I started out at teachers’ college and remained for one year, but I realised that teaching was not for me, so I left after that year and entered nursing school. When I look at it, my calling wasn’t in teaching, it was in nursing and I am happy that I realised this early,” she says.
She points out that teaching was not her original choice, as growing up she had plans of becoming a veterinarian, but she gave up on that dream and chose a different path.
Having entered the field of nursing, her desire to do well drove her to pray about her career choice and she has no regrets.
“I remember when I came into nursing, I said Lord, if this is the field that you want me to go in, help me to be one of the best nurses that Jamaica has ever had, and I just kept moving up,” she says.
After graduating from nursing school, she went to work at the island’s only public health maternity facility, Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in Kingston, and there she spent 27 years.
While there, she moved up the ranks to become a Departmental Sister and when it was time to go, although leaving her beloved mothers and babies behind was a difficult decision, it was necessary for her own self-actualisation.
“When the opportunity came for me to work at Princess Margaret, I took it and I came with open arms wanting to know how a Type C Hospital that offers different services would run, since I had been doing just maternity care for so long, but I have weathered the storm,” Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence says.
“I am doing my best, and my team is very efficient and effective, so when I make plans they are willing to work with me for the improvement of the hospital and to serve our clients and the community at large,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Executive Officer at the Hospital, Miss Melecia Linton, says that the Acting DNS is an asset to the facility.
“Since assuming the responsibility of DNS in mid-2019, she has been able to solicit the support of her nursing staff to implement the necessary changes to enhance the quality of clinical care provided to patients. This is evident in the overall reduction in complaints and more positive feedback from the clients in relation to their interaction with the nursing staff,” she says.
She adds that Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence also identifies junior staff to rotate through managerial positions as part of the succession plan and to equip them with the requisite skill sets to adequately manage their respective units, and works closely with the management staff to lobby on behalf of her department to provide the necessary resources that will enable them to effectively perform their duties.
The Acting DNS explains that nurses are required to provide round-the-clock care to patients.
“We operate on three shifts and the nurse is the person who is responsible for managing the ward,” she explains, adding that the morning shift, which runs from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is the most hectic.
“When the nurse comes in the morning, after the night shift person hands over, we place patients in categories from one to four, with four being the most ill patient on the ward. We have registered nurses (RNs), enrolled assistant nurses (EANs) and patient care assistants (PCAs), so we try at all times to have a skill mix, so you know that our very ill patients would be looked after by our RNs,” Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence says.
She points out that the EANs are efficient and sometimes they assist with the care of those patients if there are not enough RNs on the ward.
The other two categories of patients are largely attended to by the EANs, assisted by the PCAs, Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence says.
She informs that staff members are exposed to ongoing training and that the PCAs are currently doing refresher courses in Vital Signs Techniques, in conjunction with the Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence explains that when they return, they will assist in doing the vital signs of patients when the nurse is otherwise engaged on the ward.
She says she appreciates her staff, who do not shy away from challenges, but, rather, are always willing to meet them head on.
“I feel gratified in being a nurse, and one of the main things that I have said in my life is that the Government has given me that opportunity to become a nurse, so I think I should serve my Jamaican people,” Mrs. Anderson-Lawrence says.
“I did not have any intention of leaving Jamaica to go overseas to work, although the opportunities did come, but as someone from humble beginnings, I said if I can be in this capacity, I should give back to Jamaica as much as I have received and assist others on their nursing journey,” she adds.