NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Several finalist student nurses are calling on officials to allow them to take their licensing examinations needed to become registered nurses.
Eyewitness News understands that over 50 student nurses are currently waiting to sit the exam, which was initially expected to take place in May but was delayed due to restrictive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The exams were rescheduled for September 8 and September 9, but those dates have been since been postponed once again.
One finalist nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were allowed to go on study leave on August 3 but days later were advised that they should return to work because the exams were postponed indefinitely.
Those students have been working for half of the salary of Registered Nurses (RN), with expectations to receive back pay after completion of the exam.
“The longer they postpone exams, the longer the government gets full-time work for half pay,” the finalist nurse told Eyewitness News.
“…I understand that we have our shortages, we have a lot of our healthcare professionals who are quarantined or out sick because of COVID and they need us.
“If ya’ll need us, why not give us a chance to sit our exams to get our full pay because we do the same work as an RN.”
She noted that it is unfair that finalist nurses have been working the same hours and shifts as RNs, doing the same work but are not treated with the same respect.
“We basically feel like we are being used and our only compensation is our half-pay,” she added.
“…We are not even making noise for a pinning ceremony, we want the opportunity to sit our exams so we could be licensed and so we could get our full pay.”
In May, the government amended the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Order to allow student nurses undergoing practical training at a public health care facility to be deemed as a registered nurse, during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
The order stipulated that those students must also have completed the relevant curriculum of study set out in Part 1 of the First Schedule to Nurses and Midwives Regulations.
The qualifying students were employed by the Ministry of Health under a contract of service during the state of the public emergency or until such other time as contracted between the parties, according to the order.
It furthered noted that those students would have been registered with the National Insurance Board and will be entitled to the employment benefits.
Those student nurses however do not qualify for benefits under the Public Hospitals Authority.