Minister pledges 30-acre college for nurses, easier access to scholarships

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence (right) posing with some of the nurses (DPI photo)

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence yesterday promised nurses a 30- acre state-of-the-art college, easier access to scholarships and specialized training as well as medical checkups each year.

Lawrence who delivered the feature address at the launch of the 90th Anniversary celebrations of the Guyana Nurses’ Association (GNA) congratulated it  on having survived for as long as it has.

She stressed that the anniversary’s theme of “Uniting forces, uplifting nurses celebrating 90 years with pride” is important while calling on the nurses present to improve the public image of their profession.

“It seems from all quarters that this profession is falling into disarray. Discipline, dedication, integrity ethics and professionalism,” the Minister lamented.

The Minister was keen to acknowledge the issues faced by nurses and empathized with their frustrations including their inability to access scholarships and advance their skill set.

“I know in many instances that you may feel that this is just another job [but] your issue will be addressed presently,” she assured noting that her Ministry is working to address human resource constraints as a matter of urgency.

As part of the attempt to increase the number of qualified nursing professionals, Lawrence said that her ministry has contacted the Ministry of the Presidency to request that the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission makes available 30 acres of land for the construction of a college.

“We want to build a college. A college where every tier of person within the nursing profession can have state-of-the-art training,” she said. According to the Minister the intention is to have the technology for real life simulations and online real time connections to medical classes around the world

Additionally the Minister noted that the Nurses and Midwives Act which was crafted in 1964 is to be amended to allow nurses to better access scholarships and specialist training.

The association was thanked for its input and informed that Attorney General Basil Williams had indicated that the amended Act will be sent to Cabinet next week for approval.

“When you start as a registered nurse, nursing assistant or midwife it is not for you remain there for the next 40 years. It is just one of the goalposts, there are many. It is expected that you will move and make space for others in the profession. I am not asking you, I am telling you that you will have to move on to allow our country to develop necessary skill sets,” she announced to resounding applause.

Lawrence lamented that in her time as Minister she has seen many medical professionals working while “gravely ill” and marveled at the perception that “nurses and doctors don’t get sick.”

She explained that having witnessed medical professionals repeatedly putting off seeking proper treatment she intends to have a “medical month for medical personnel.”

During this month all medical personnel employed in the public sector will be granted access to the “facilities for a total checkup” the minister explained.

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