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Health Minister, nurses slowly close the gap
Registered nurses and nursing students who assembled outside the Ministry of Health, corner of Park and Edward Streets, Port-of-Spain were hoping to teach Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan and the public the meaning of “respect.” The group of about 40 uniformed persons who gathered to support the Nursing Council of Trinidad & Tobago during a meeting with Khan on Monday handed out flyers to motorists and pedestrians labelled How to Disrespect a Nurse 101.
Member of council, Russel Salcedo said the council was surprised and amazed by the unrequested turnout. This was the first meeting between Khan and the council since the minister announced major changes to the Nurses and Midwives Act on July 2. The council is opposed to Khan’s proposal to partially remove the Regional Examination for Nurse Registration. The exam is a requirement for nurse licensure in Caricom states.
Salcedo said although the meeting was inconclusive, the council and the ministry had found common ground. “The minister made known his decisions and we came to a centre in terms of the examination and the people who are failing out of the system.”
A second meeting is scheduled for July 30. Khan describe the meeting as “agreeable” and said there will be changes “to some extent” to his previous declarations regarding the Act. “The exam will be structured in such a manner that will help to develop the nursing sector in this country, but the council must come back with proposals to the proposals.”
The failure rate of the examination, which has been a point of contention between Khan and the council, was clarified according to Salcedo. “At the end of the day, those who fail out of the system, when we did the maths, are three to four per cent and yet those people are brought into the system as enrolled nursing assistants.”
He added: “Minister felt part of the exam was a bit too subjective. We have no beef really. We are comfortable with changing the composition of the exam. A registered nurse, who was present but preferred not to be named, said the exam was crucial to maintaining standards in the health sector. “The exam is there to weed out bad eggs, make sure standards are maintained and protect the public from malpractice.” The nurse added that the issue of standards fell upon institutions and not the council.
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