I would like to respond to the call of ‘A concerned nurse’.
I heard her call and it touched me to my core. She has motivated me to become unmute, after being discouraged and disappointed. I am a registered nurse of thirty plus years, inclusive of my three years of training. I was employed at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) after my training up until February 2020.
In 2017-2018, I had the opportunity to study at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica; where I obtained a master’s degree in nursing administration. I returned home, being more optimist, passionate and knowledgeable about my nursing profession. However, things did not go as planned. I was allocated to do a clinical administrative rotation throughout the clinical units/wards within PMH.
During this rotation I saw a view of the hospital that I would have never imagined. It was in a degrading and degenerate state at the time, especially on the wards/units outside the Critical Care Block (CCB). I was alarmed. The staff had a joke among us that persons who were allocated in the CCB were in Lyford Cay behind the gate and outside the gate was the jungle.
I was awakened from the matrix and realized that we could not continue like this, we were in trouble. I voiced these concerns to senior nurse leaders but to no avail. I had opportunities to present at formal forums, that revealed to me that senior nurse leaders did not approve of what I had to say. We know that nursing shortage is a global issue, but does it mean that we do nothing to retain our Bahamian nurses?
Once a upon a time, nurses would conceal their intentions of migrating to another country to work, but long gone are those days. Even the graduate nurses can be seen studying for their NCLEX exams (used to obtain licensure to work in the USA). I wonder how many of the newly trained nurses have already starting their preparation for migration.
The funny thing is that senior nurse leaders have the attitude, ‘if they want leave let them leave’. I love PMH (there is great potential), it is the place where I became the nurse I am today.
However, I could no longer conform to the broken systems, I was not fitting in. I never wanted to leave the country to do nursing elsewhere, I always wanted to remain home and make a positive impact within the nursing profession. I retired from PMH, although years from the age of fifty. You may ask, why did I do this? I refused to accept the status quo and wanted to obtain a different perspective. It was my intention to return after acquiring the answers I was searching for. But, once again things did not go as planned.
Concerned nurse you were correct when you stated that this pandemic has highlighted our weakness.
Crisis always reveal our true character, be it strengths or weakness, whether as an individual or an organization. We must learn from every situation, be it positive or negative. The issues in our healthcare system are complex, it is not one simple issue but many, and some of it is by our own doing. More than ever, it is now required that we become agile, innovative, creative and work as a team (not as a group/clique). A solution we have today may not work next week or month, we must become fluid.
Concerned nurse, I applaud you for taking a stand and speaking out. It was not to disrespect our nursing leaders, but we are in trouble and there must be change.
Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.”
Change is inevitable! I have heard your cry and I feel your pain, I understand. Although I am no longer employed by government, I will do my best to impact change from the outside. My prayers are with you, my colleagues and the other healthcare workers. Stand strong, don’t lose hope and stay safe!
A heart and spirit of a nurse leader