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The Ministry of Health marked a milestone in nursing history, yesterday (June 11), with the inaugural launch of the Nephrology training programme for nurses, at the Kingston Public Hospital.
It was also the commencement date for the programme, with four nurses in the all-female batch that will receive training as specialists in nephrology nursing. Two are from the Kingston Public Hospital and two from the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.
Giving an overview of the programme, Training Officer for Nursing in the Ministry of Health, Yvonne Young Reid, explained that the aims of the programme were: to provide new knowledge and feedback to enhance quality care; develop management ability and increase confidence in dealing with patients and colleagues; improve knowledge and understanding of nursing principles in the care of the renal patient; develop research skills and create a culture of learning; improve professional approaches in problem solving; and develop critical thinking skills in the management of the patient with renal failure.
Over a 30-week period, candidates will gain the necessary competence in the theory and practical areas of nephrology nursing in classroom and clinical settings at the Kingston Public Hospital. The course, which is organized in five modules, will cover haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis transplants, and med/surgical nursing. Clinical support will be gained in dialysis, wards, clinics, transplant, intensive care units, operating theatre, and field trips.
Mrs. Young Reid informed that the curriculum, which was borrowed and adopted from a similar course offered in the United Kingdom’s, is “highly accredited.”
“Highly skilled persons will train you and you will be well sought after,” she emphasized.
The four nurses who were selected had to satisfy certain criteria that were compulsory, including experience in a renal setting (dialysis, transplant, or ward). They had to also be registered nurses with current licences, have a minimum of two to three years post registration experience, well developed verbal and written communication skills, Basic Life Support certification, and have demonstrated the ability to adapt to a new environment.
In his remarks, Acting Regional Technical Director for the South East, Dr. Rudolph Stephens said that the new programme would fill a gap that had been void for years.
“After viewing the curriculum we are very pleased at the marvellous work that the planners have done,” he noted.
Nephrologist and KPH Renal Unit pioneer, Professor L. Lawson Douglas, while tracing the history of the 30 year-old KPH Renal Unit, suggested that units should be placed in all hospitals islandwide, “so very ill patients don’t have to travel 60 miles on the minibus to get treatment.”
Addressing the trainees, he said that the nephrology nurse was “a special nurse” who must know such critical procedures as fixing the dialysis machine if it breaks down, think on her feet in the event of an emergency, and be a friend to the often depressed patient on dialysis.
President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Edith Allwood Anderson, described the course launch as a “terrific milestone,” which has come as a result of lobbying and advocating. She urged nurses “to learn well, be aware that the world is their Diaspora, cross fertilize, and have a succession plan well put together.”
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Grace Allen-Young, who represented Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, commended the programme planners for ensuring that the training programme “came into being on time at the level that is required.”
Citing a 2004 local study, which indicated that 327,000 per million persons could be diagnosed with kidney disease, Dr. Allen-Young informed that more dialysis units and the need for more nephrology nurses would become critical.
“Statistics indicate that the incidence of the disease is increasing. Dialysis therefore provides a crucial relief in the treatment of persons suffering from kidney disease,” she said.
She said that while only four nurses have been selected for the inaugural programme, several nurses have requested training.
“It is the intention of the Ministry to train a cadre of nurses to facilitate and increase the number of persons on shifts at the two regional units. In some places, the Renal Unit goes 24 hours, and it means that you need to have nurses,” the Permanent Secretary said.
Dr. Allen-Young pointed out that the introduction of the nephrology nursing programme would aid in addressing staffing issues at both Renal Units in Kingston and Montego Bay.
She revealed that the National Health Fund has contributed $2 million to facilitate the programme.Nurses interested in pursuing the course can submit their applications by December of each year.
The programme is being co-ordinated by the Critical Care Nursing Unit of the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the South East Regional Health Authority/Kingston Public Hospital.