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The Department of Advanced Nursing Education (DANE), Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus is now training some 150 students nurses who are pursuing the Bachelor of Science Nursing (BScN) degree programme. Head of DANE, Dr. Hermi Hewitt, says the commencement of the programme this September is the result of the collaborative efforts made by DANE and the University Hospital of the West Indies School of Nursing to meet the goal established by the Regional Nursing Body (RNB) which monitors nursing standards in the region that “by 2005, the entry point for professional nursing practice should be the BScN degree.”

Dr. Hewitt explains that from as far back as 1972 when it was formed, the RNB recommended to the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health in the region that nursing education should be in the mainstream of tertiary education.

The UWI has also franchised the BScN programme to two Community Colleges – Brown’s Town in St. Ann which began the programme in 2002 and currently has some 100 nurses in training and more recently the Excelsior Community College which began training some 60 nurses this September.

With over 300 nurses in training in the combined programmes, DANE expects to have a major impact on meeting the demand for nurses in the Jamaican health sector. Dr. Hewitt notes that the training programme is part of the “Managed Migration” strategy devised by Caribbean nurses in response to the severe shortage of nurses in the region with vacancy levels estimated at 35%. The aim is to retain competent nurses in the region while respecting the rights of professionals to choose where they want to live and work.

The UWI expects to train some 200 nurses annually at Mona and most students will pay the full economic cost of US$15,000 for the three-year (nine-semester) programme. The Governments and hospitals in Jamaica and the Caribbean will continue to sponsor students to meet their needs. Dr. Hewitt explains that the current cohort fell below expectations because several qualified students were not able to access loans from the Student Loan Bureau because of time constraints.

The new BScN programme at Mona has meant that the UWI through DANE has effectively taken charge of the nursing programme usually offered by the UHWI School of Nursing. Dr. Hewitt notes that for the past five years the nursing school was only able to offer training to an average of 23% of qualified applicants to the school since the students in the three-year certificate programme were fully sponsored by the hospital. The UHWI School of Nursing was established in 1949 to meet the service needs of the new hospital.

The nursing students at Mona are to do their core nursing courses using the facilities within the Faculty of Medical Sciences, as well as at the School of Nursing. Students are also doing a number of University and cross-faculty courses in the Faculties of Humanities and Education, Social Sciences and Pure and Applied Sciences. The Head of DANE says “nurses need to be exposed to and educated in a variety of areas to make them competent and rounded professionals, so now they are able to take advantage of all the facilities available to them as UWI students.” She adds that prior to this, nursing students could not fully use such facilities as the medical library as they were not students of the University.

Lecturers in the programme are drawn from DANE and tutors at the School of Nursing qualified to teach at the undergraduate level are being phased into the programme. Dr. Hewitt explains that tutors who need to upgrade their qualification are being encouraged to do so and will be absorbed into the new programme over time.

The Department of Advanced Nursing Education at Mona was established in 1966 to offer nursing education and nursing administration programmes. In 1983 the department introduced the BScN (post RN) degree for registered nurses.

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