The lack of skilled nurses is a major sticking point in Dominica’s health sector, acting principal nursing officer and matron, Letitia Lestrade-Wyke, has said.
On Monday Dominica joins the rest of the world in observing International Nurses Day and Lestrade-Wyke said although the nursing sector has come a long way, specialized training for nurses is lacking.
“We have come a long way. We have seen an improvement and we have seen an increase in the number of nurses that we have. However, our challenge is the skills mix,” she told DNO. “We have specialized areas in nursing for example Midwifery, Intensive Care Nursing, and the biggest challenge is getting persons trained in those specialty areas.”
She pointed out further that a lack of resources and lack of access to the training programs can be blamed for the problem but stated assistance is being sought to train some nurses for specalised areas.
“We have implemented local training, for example our dialysis nurses are trained in Dominica, the midwifery persons are trained at the Faculty of Health and Sciences (of the DSC) and even the operating theatre nurses have our local training also. We train them on the job,” she said.
She added that nurses on the island have improved in terms of professional development.
“Nurses have come a long way,” the matron noted. “A lot of them have done post graduate studies. Also in the nursing service we have this mentorship coaching program that was implemented in April that will further assist our nurses in ensuring improvement in delivery of care.”
A public speaking competition at the Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday afternoon will be the highlight of activities to commemorate International Nurses Day.
Five nurses of the various wards of the hospital will go head to head to debate the topic “A force for change-A vital resource for health.”
Lestrade-Wyke said the competition is the first of its kind at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
“Research for us is very vital in nursing in terms of improvement of patient care and if our nurses prepare and we do this public speaking competition, it will allow them to improve their research skills, to analyze information and also help them build up their public speaking skills and since they had to work together as a team, we felt that it would boost teams spirit in the various departments,” she explained.
A radio address by the President of the Nurses Association, Deborah Phillip, is another main activity for the day.