NMA STRIKE: The Need for Nurse Practitioners in Nigeria

On 16/Jul/2014 / In Articles

I have finally decided to break my silence and join the fray of venom spiting medical and health professionals on medicalworldnigeria.com as the media war and propaganda continues, 
This NMA STRIKE has once again brought to the fore the bitterness, repulsiveness and aggressive rivalry between NMA on the one hand and JOHESU on the other. 
It is no longer news that the NMA has been on strike for over a week now for reasons i personally choose not to comment on. It is no longer news that the strike has crippled activities in the government hospital settings to a near standstill. What may not be news is the trend in developed countries to a breed of nurses called the "Nurse Practitioners (NPs)", I choose to call them "a doctors nightmare come true".
According to the website of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NPs are quickly becoming the health partner of choice for millions of Americans. 
Nurse Practitioners are clinicians that blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to health care.  
These Nurse Practitioners Autonomously and in collaboration with health care professionals and other individuals, provide a full range of primary, acute and specialty health care services, including: Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests such as lab work and x-rays, Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, and injuries, Prescribing medications and other treatments, Managing patients' overall care, Counseling, Educating patients on disease prevention and positive health and lifestyle choices.
Take out "surgery" in the equation and you would see a striking similarity between the job description of a doctor and that of a Nurse Practitioner. While these services (Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests such as lab work and x-rays, Diagnosing and treating acute/chronic conditions, infections, and injuries, Prescribing medications) provided by Nurse Practitioners would sincerely scare the shit out of any Nigerian doctor, what would even be more scary is the fact that in the united states there is a proposal to expand the ability of Nurse Practitioners in addition to all of these listed above, to practice free of physician oversight. 
In the united states, A 2010 Institute of Medicine report regarding the future of nursing practice recommended that scope of practice barriers be removed for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), along with recommendations to expand; standardize; and, streamline nursing education and integration in healthcare delivery.
As at 2013, Nurse Practitioners had the ability to provide a full range of medical care to patients without physician oversight in 17 states and Washington D.C. Other states require collaborative agreements between Nurse Practitioners and physicians to provide certain aspects of care (21 states), while others restrict care under supervision or delegation of a physician (12 states).
The NMA Strike has once again thrown to the fore front a challenge of care shortage especially at times like this. Sadly, the innocent citizens bear the brunt of death, exploitation in private hospitals owned by same NMA Folks and betrayal. The Nigerian health care system of care must begin to adapt and be modeled to challenges it faces especially in terms of consumer access to care at times like this NMA Strike. 
Complimentary alternatives must be put in place to cushion the effects of another inevitable medical sector strike which i foresee as inevitable should the government succumb to the demands of the NMA at the peril of the demands of JOHESU. 
The Nursing and midwifery council of Nigeria must live up to its responsibility of regulating the standards of Nursing/ Midwifery Education and Practice in Nigeria and develop a curriculum to guide a Nurse Practitioner trainging programs 
It is evident that by providing high-quality care and counseling, Nurse Practitioners can lower the cost of health care for patients. Nurse Practitioners are more than just health care providers; they are mentors, educators, researchers, administrators and CONSULTANTS which the NMA so detest fully  abhor!!
By Jennifer Emelue 

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