Twenty nurses have created history as the first cohort of graduates from The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus Faculty of Medical Sciences’ Postgraduate Diploma in Paediatric Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing programme.
Newly appointed Minister of Health and Wellness, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, lauded the nurses’ determination during a Pinning and Recognition ceremony over the weekend at The UWI.
Six of the nurses graduated from the Master of Science in Nursing programme, and 14 with distinctions, from the Post Graduate Diploma in Paediatric Nursing.
“Amazingly, these nurses have all successfully completed their various programmes while we were experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. So, this afternoon, the theme ‘Excellence in Nursing’ aptly recognises the hard work and determination of these graduates to successfully complete their studies in the midst of personal and professional challenges associated with this pandemic, where many of them continued to serve as frontline workers, while seeking to meet their various programme assignments and objectives,” Minister Walcott pointed out.
The graduates are all registered nurses who come from a range of institutions, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Geriatric and District Hospitals, polyclinics and the Barbados Community College.
Dr Walcott added that human resources development was high on the Ministry’s agenda, and Government was committed to the training of nurses “in post-basic specialities, as we continually seek to strengthen the delivery of health care services in our island”.
To this end, the Health Minister emphasised the importance of cultivating a partnership between The UWI and the Ministry with the common mission of pursuing nursing excellence.
The Master of Science in Nursing, with specialisations in Education and Administration, was introduced in 2018. Prior to this, The UWI, Cave Hill, did not have undergraduate or postgraduate courses in nursing like its sister campuses UWI Mona and St. Augustine.
Additionally, in 2020, Government and the Hospital for Sick Kids in Canada, established a seven-year partnership to positively impact the health and well-being of children in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean called the Shaw Centre for Paediatric Excellence. It is through this partnership that the Postgraduate Diploma in Paediatric Nursing was implemented.
Minister Walcott said the Ministry of Health and Wellness also continued to work with the Barbados Community College and its nursing programme.
“We are making sure that nursing education receives the necessary attention as we are heartened to know that the pass rate [at the BCC] has improved from a low of 40 per cent four to five years ago, to now about 70 per cent passes for the past two to three years. [This is] testimony to the hard work of the tutors as well as programmes to support individual mentorship and coaching,” he underscored.
Stating that this first cohort of nurses would lead the way in making Barbados a centre for paediatric excellence in the region, the Health Minister expressed his gratitude for their unwavering commitment.
“Graduates, your dedication and commitment to higher learning has not gone unnoticed, and I am happy to celebrate everyone of you for going above and beyond the call of duty to achieve excellence, not only in your responsibilities but in the attainment of higher education,” he stressed.