Within the space of 18 months, seven Turks and Caicos Islands nursing students could etch their names in the annals of local history when they become the first batch of Turks and Caicos Islands Community College (TCICC) Students to graduate with their Associates Degree in Nursing being educated locally.
The dream of the six females has been put on the fast lane of reality when the TCI Hospital launches the Nursing Student Practicum programme on Monday at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre in Providenciales. This means that, for the first time, no nursing student in this chain of islands would be forced to go off to another country to undergo their practical training.
The students who have already completed three years of book work at the TCI Community College through the University of the West Indies (UWI), will now embark on an 18-month practicum at the InterHealth Canada-run TCI Hospital sites – the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre in Providenciales and the Cockburn Town Medical Centre in Grand Turk.
The Nursing Student Practicum launch was attended by a cadre of government officials and technocrats. Among the attendees were Minister of Education Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Health Hon. Jamell Robinson, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Wesley Clerveaux, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Renessa Williams, Interim President of the TCI community College, Clara Gardiner and CEO for the TCI Hospital, Dr. Denise Braithwaite-Tennant.
For her part, Minister of Education Hon. Rachel Taylor explained that the Nursing Student Practicum Launch became a reality through a multidimensional approach.
She explained that among those that worked on the project were the Ministry of Education, through the TCICC, the Ministry of Health, InterHealth Canada and the University of the West Indies.
“This is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when we emphatically and intentionally partner and collaborate towards an achievement of a shared goal,” she said.
Taylor said it is the mission of her ministry, which is also responsible for Employment Services, to improve the lives of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands through tangible opportunities.
In encouraging and congratulating the students, Minister Robinson urged them to take the course seriously.
“You have a golden opportunity, and you must embrace it,” he implored. “You are here to learn…not one of us in this room today know everything about anything. With learning comes constructive criticism and I implore you to not think of it as an attack, but rather the means by which you will be better.”
Reminding them that nursing is hard work, Minister Robinson encouraged the students to put their hearts into their profession.
“Be a sponge, do not be afraid to pull knowledge from the experienced healthcare professionals that you will work with in the coming months,” he advised.
Clara Gardiner, Interim President of the TCICC said she was awed by the passionate desire, and interest expressed by the students to rough-out the course, which they started several years ago.
“Students, in many ways, your zeal is encouraging because, as adult learners, you have communicated in no uncertain terms, that you are willing, and ready, to put in the work, and make the personal sacrifices, to achieve your goals,” she said.
She added: “And so, as you progress and rotate from one clinical learning experience to another, I encourage you to persevere with that same passion, in your journey ahead, and may it manifest itself, in the quality of care that you will give, which is essential to the recovery of persons, who will rely on your service.
In bringing greetings, CEO for the InterHealth Canada-run TCI Hospitals Dr. Denises Braithwaite-Tennant said the initiative has been in the making for approximately eight years.
She said InterHealth Canada, together with the Ministries of Education and Health, remain resolute to the planned necessity of the government, to increase human capacity in nursing, and supporting the various programmes that promote increased overall human capital in healthcare in the country.
“In 2014, in collaboration with the then former president, Dr. Hubert Fulford, and the vice president, Samuel Forbes, our training development team members, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, we began this journey, also with the affiliation agreement.
“So, it was intentional…there was an affiliation agreement that binds us, which says that we are coming together to partner in human capital building and have these two facilities be centres that healthcare students can rotate,” she said.