Elephant In The Room: Oluwatosin K. Odunayo - FELLOW NURSES AFRICA
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February 14, 2018

Elephant In The Room: Oluwatosin K. Odunayo

As much as I wish to shy away from this, my conscience won’t just let me or probably its because of the love I have for this profession.

Oluwatosin K.O (RN,)
It is no longer strange to hear that nurses who are supposed to be caring are sometimes called careless and the most wicked group of professionals in the health sector by some members. Hmmmmm, I agree with you, I feel your pains. Or what do you expect of a man who had spent all his life savings on his wife who has been bedridden for months with no hope of taking a turn for the better to say of a Nurse who can’t ignore all other patients and attend to the wife alone, isn't she wicked?

Like I mentioned in an article of mine, "Quackery and its devastating effects on the health of Nigerians", not everybody you see in white uniform is a Nurse! What gave you that Conviction that the "wicked lady" in white that attended to you during your last visit to the hospital was a Nurse? Did you ask that simple question, are you a Registered Nurse? What was her response? Oh! You didn’t deem it fit to ask?

Every profession has ethics guiding its conduct and Nursing isn’t an exemption. Professional Nurses are aware they are liable to be sued by their employers and their patients or get their license revoked by the Nursing council when these ethics are not properly followed. For instance, are you aware that as a patient you can sue your Nurse and even your doctor or the hospital for malpractice, oh yes! I mean it.

Malpractice is negligence, misconduct or breach of duty by a healthcare professional that results in injury /damage to the patient (Reising & Allen,2007 ). Malpractices can occur when the healthcare team fails to follow up care, communicate, act as patients’ advocate, and follow the chain of command etc. Professionals are aware of these, hence the need to be extra careful while dealing with patients. I am not saying Nurses are super heroes, they are not perfect either but it is only in Nigeria that Nurses are expected to perform optimally even when the hospital environment is not conducive.

Efficiency of labour is determined by two factors, an optimal working condition and good renumeration. Nurses are the most important figures in the health sector, with an average Nigerian Nurse spending over 12 hours in the hospital on daily basis attending to patients suffering from various forms of life threatening illness. The first person you come in contact with after delivery is a Nurse and the last person before death is the Nurse. Have you ever wondered how much these Nurses earn annually despite these tasking responsibilities ? Oh! You belong to the group of persons who say Nurses earn big?

The word "improvise" is now a common language in nursing. When basic hospital needs are not provided by our government and hospital management, are we expected to fold our arms and watch while these patients committed to our care die in pains and agony? Hell no! We result to improvising and an average Nigerian Nurse has now become an  expert in such situations. We improvise for tourniquets, flannels, trollies, trays, beds, even gloves, just name it.

When these little but vital things are not put in place, how then do we expect the Nurse to function optimally?

Sometimes ago, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Luth chapter declared an indefinite strike due to epileptic supply of electricity at the hospital, inadequate equipment, provision of consumables, irregular water supply and non payment of salaries among others. The hospital management has always been aware of this but never showed any interest in attempting to change this. Nurses are overworked and earn peanuts yet, the peanut we earn are not even paid on time. If you are confused, ask the nurses in Ekiti state who have not been paid for a while now.

The crux of the matter is that these nurses suffer cold shoulder in the hands of our clients ( patients and relatives). Violence against nurses is a complex and persistent occupational hazard facing the nursing profession in Nigeria. This violence can take the form of intimidation, harassment, stalking, beatings, rapings and other forms of assaults. Psychological consequences resulting from these violence are sadness, depression, frustration, mistrust and nervousness thereby reducing the efficiency or care rendered by these angels in uniforms. Examples of these attacks on nurses are too numerous to recount.

The belief held by members of the public is that Nursing is  a humanitarian service or services rendered to humanity, which ever way, therefore Nurses deserve not to be paid at all or better still earn peanuts. But have you ever wondered how much student nurses pay as school fees per session?

How then does it cost this much just to render a humanitarian service? If Nursing is truly a humanitarian service, then Nurses should enjoy humanitarian services. Are our children enjoying free education? Are our house rents free? Do we eat for free at the public or supper markets? Even when we fall sick, yes! Nurses fall sick too , we pay our hospital bills just like the normal patients, then tell me what it means to render humanitarian services.  Nigerian trained nurses are flying abroad for greener pastures and when they get there, they shine because they trained in one of the harshest educational atmosphere, you’re disputing that? Ask around.

Funny  enough, when our politicians here run abroad for treatments, they ended up being attended to by these same  Nigerian trained nurses.  Of a truth, every profession has it ups and downs, disrespect, harassment and assault seems to be peculiar to Nursing profession alone and as long as these continue without putting any government policy in place to address it, as long as improvisions continue, a long as remunerations are poor and working environment (hospitals ) are not conducive. As long as politicians fly abroad for an ordinary ear problems, never expect the quality nursing services in Nigeria to improve.

Nurses are the most important figure in the health profession and they deserve to be treated as such. We too are human...

In my life time, NURSING must flourish!

I am a Nurse
I chose to be one 
and I’m proud I am.    
I'm Oluwatosin Kehinde Odunayo RN
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