The University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) has expressed its sore displeasure with the management of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu and that of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, for their alleged deliberate exclusion of nurse interns from their internship programmes.
In a release jointly signed by the National President and National Secretary, Chief (Hon) S.E.O. Egwuenu and Nurse G.I. Nshi respectively, it was stated that the two health institutions exempted nurse interns from participating in the mandatory internship programme.
The press statement which was addressed to the minister of health, reads in part:
“We write to draw your kind attention to the gross injustice, discrimination and wanton marginalization of nurses by the management of University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu and that of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri.
“The two hospitals had on 25th October and 24th November, 2017 respectively, made adverts for placement of interns. These adverts however, selectively excluded nurse interns from the categories of internship positions advertised which listed interns of all other core healthcare professions for whom a one year internship training, like in nursing, forms a compulsory and integral part of their training.
“We were appalled by the selective discrimination so we wrote them on 6th December, 2017 vide our letter Ref No. UGONSA/017/CMD/UNTH/01 and UGONSA/017/CMD/FMCO/01, calling for rectification of the anomaly in case it had been an unfortunate error. We wonder what nurses have done wrong that would warrant the selective exclusion of their intending interns from running internship training which, like that of the other healthcare professions that were advertised, was also approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Council on Establishment (NCE) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) as well as the statutory regulatory body (for nursing in Nigeria .i.e. the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria).
“Since we wrote them over the ugly development, the managements of these two hospitals have surprisingly maintained a loud silence on the issue. This deafening silence has eroded all our benefits of doubt and rather reinforced our speculation that it may be a continuation of the oppressive sentiments against nurses that have become the characteristic stock-in-trade of the chief executive officers of some government owned hospitals.
“By denying nursing the opportunity to run internship programme for its fresh graduates in their facilities, the management of UNTH and FMC Owerri are toying with and jeopardizing the future of hundreds of fresh graduate nurses whose full registration and licensure by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria are tied to internship training. They are also robbing the country of the opportunity of producing qualified manpower needed to drive effective care delivery in our health system especially as nurses are the first and the last line of defence for patients in any healthcare delivery system in the world.
“Most especially, they are breaching the constitution of the land by discriminating against their fellow Nigerians on the basis of their chosen professional career, which is recognized as a noble career by the law of the land”.
For justice to take its rightful place, the association has called on the Federal Ministry of Health to prevail on the hospitals to make the following amendments :
“Make a supplementary advert placement for the post of nurse interns to give nurses a sense of belonging, give fresh graduate nurses opportunity to get internship training for full registration and licensure as was done for their counterparts in other core healthcare disciplines, and foster equity and fairness.
“Consider the nascence of internship training for the graduates of B.N.Sc degree as a ground for recruiting nurse interns in large and considerable numbers.
“Respect the extant laws, rules and regulations by giving the fresh graduate nurses similar internship opportunity that was given to their counterparts in other core healthcare disciplines to foster their full registration and licensure by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria and help the country with qualified manpower needed to drive effective care delivery in our health system”.