I REFER to the letter “Spark needed for change in nursing profession” (The Star, June 22) by Nik Safiah Nik Ismail, which was in response to three other letters discussing the current state of nursing in our public hospitals: “Family members doing nurses’ job” by Anne Swinitha Rajaratnam (May 25), “Blame the system, not the nurses” by Matron Pat (May 30) and “More to nursing than meets the eye” by Prof Zahrah Saad, MAHSA University (June 14).
The conversation started with Rajaratnam questioning the standard of nursing care in a government hospital. This was followed by Matron Pat, who shared her views on the factors that led to the current state of affairs and then by Prof Zahrah, who disputed the contents of both the first and second letters. Nik Safiah waded into the discussion and interestingly agreed with the first two letters and challenged Prof Zahrah.
Calling herself a devil’s advocate, Nik Safiah gave her reasons on why the standard of nursing practice is as it is now and then brought up a number of issues to provoke further discussion on the subject.
Among them was the matter of a medical assistant leading a nursing institution. It is of utmost importance for anyone to ascertain a fact before sharing it in public, otherwise a devil’s advocate would seem like a loose canon.
There isn’t any particular nursing institution led by a medical assistant in our country, hence Nik Safiah should have been more precise.
It should be the Health Ministry that should verify her allegations but I think any medical staff in public service would tell you that there are allied health colleges which are led by people from all allied health disciplines and also by officers from the public and diplomatic services.
They train all allied health professionals; in other words, nurses are also directors in colleges which train medical laboratory technologists, radiographers, physiotherapists and so on.
Have we heard any of them squeak about a nurse leading their institution? Are they blaming the nursing directors for any shortfalls in their training?
We also know that there are some “open” posts in the ministry which could be occupied by graduates from any health-related fields. That has been the practice all the while, but how could that cause deterioration in any professions?
As for the position and role of medical assistants, one has to visit the website of the Health Ministry to understand their status.
But having said all these, I cannot but wonder what the role and position of medical assistants have to do with the matter raised by Rajaratnam. If her observations are true and there is clear evidence of nurses straying from their original role, then it’s the fault of none other than the current and past nursing leadership.
With a force of more than 65,000 nurses, it is totally absurd to say that a single medical assistant can contribute to the challenges in good nursing practices.
Providing health and medical care is always a team effort. No one in the team is a lesser being. Appreciating a team member and striving for excellence together should be the norm of a noble practice. Blaming others and throwing insinuations against a fellow team member is definitely unbecoming of a leader of a noble profession.
And her take on the diploma level nursing graduates borders on insulting their immense contributions all these years.
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