Graduates In Limbo

About 100 prospective nurses who have graduated from the School of Nursing of the University of Ghana, Legon,, will not take part in this year’s licensure examination which will qualify them to practice their profession. The predicament of the graduates has resulted from the refusal of the Nurses and Midwives Council (NMC) to register them for the examination which begins on Monday, November 2, 2009 and ends on December 18, 2009. The council said the graduates had failed to meet the entry requirements to pursue the Nursing programme, although they had gone through a four-year study at the university. But the graduates, some of whom graduated with First Class honours, contended that once they met the requirements to enter the School of Nursing, they should be allowed to write the examination. In addition, they claimed that when the issue first cropped up, a stakeholders’ meeting held on March 25, 2009 agreed that they be granted amnesty to write the examination. In defence of its position, the Registrar of the NMC, Rev. Veronica Darko, said, “The School of Nursing, University of Ghana, has been admitting students who possess aggregate results that do not meet what has been prescribed and advertised by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the council.” “Whereas the Nursing and Midwifery Training Colleges admit students with aggregate 24 or better in six subjects – three core and three electives – in the specified options for their diploma programme, the School of Nursing, which offers a degree programme, admits students with aggregates 25 or more, with the excuse that those students are fee-paying,” she said in response to an earlier petition by the students. The Dean of the School of Nursing, Dr Ernestina Donkor, who confirmed in an interview that, indeed, the graduates had not been indexed to write the examination, said she did not know whether the school had been aware of the requirements of the council before admitting the students. In September 2007, she said, the requirements submitted by the council indicated that students should make Al-C6 in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) or A-D in the then Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Integrated Science. For the electives, she said, Al E8 in the WASSCE or A-E in the SSSCE were the requirements, adding that efforts were currently underway to ensure that the graduates wrote the examination. They provided a letter signed by the Provost of the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana, Prof. A.L. Lawson, and addressed to the Director f Human Resource Development at the Ministry of health, Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira. The letter read in part, “In response to the agreement reached, I furnish you with a list of students from the School of Nursing, University of Ghana, who need amnesty to make them eligible for indexing for the Nurses and Midwives Council’s professional examination. On behalf of his colleagues, the President of the National Health Students Association of Ghana, Mr Albert Evedzi, called on the government to take a critical look a that matter, since the failure of the council to allow the graduates to write the examination would deprive the country of the opportunity to increase its stock of nurses to meet its health needs. “While the health system in Ghana is suffering from inadequate health workers, the NMC has decided to worsen the situation by refusing to register some graduate nurses from the University of Ghana for the licensure examination this year,” he stated. Rev. Darko dismissed the graduates’ argument that it had been agreed at the stakeholders’ meeting that they be granted amnesty to write the examination. “It was not decided that the students of the School of Nursing of the University of Ghana should be granted amnesty. Rather, a consensus was reached that the request for amnesty should be forwarded to the council for consideration,” she said, explaining that “due to the absence of a governing board, I referred the matter to the National Accreditation Board (NAB) for advice, since it is in charge of the accreditation of programmes at the tertiary level.”