The image of nursing: Nurses and Midwives deserve better

Milly Namasinga (L) and Lilian Nuwabaine (R)

Growing up, the nursing profession was one of the most respected professions.  Whenever each one of us was asked about their dream profession, obviously, the nursing profession came first. The most important things we admired about nurses of then was the way they conducted themselves full of dignity, with respect for everyone, passion and love for their work. All this was often seen with the maximum respect the public gave such nurses! 

However, nowadays, something keeps baffling our minds! Where did all that respect and positive talk and image of the nursing profession disappear from? Are there somethings we as nurses and midwives aren’t doing well? Are we disrespectful to our patients and clients? Have we lost the respect for our profession? What exactly aren’t we doing right? And is it our problem anyway or? Are we the ones to be blamed? Yet, more than 80% of the healthcare outcomes are attributed by us the nurses and midwives. This implies that without nurses and midwives, the healthcare system is on standstill.

A good nurse or midwife is one who is knowledgeable and skilled, caring, empathetic, meticulous with a good sense of humor, possesses unique soft skills such as communication skills, problem solving and advocacy skills with high emotional intelligence among many other qualities. 

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Of recent, we happened to be part of the health team moving across Uganda visiting most of the healthcare facilities. What struck us most was the welfare of the nurses and midwives. We actually witnessed some nurses and midwives sharing accommodation with patients in the wards because they had no any housing provided to them. For some who were housed, the houses were in a sorry state, and were all worn out.  We also noticed there were inadequate supplies and drugs in these facilities. Often, such a situation pushed nurses and midwives to advise such patients to buy the supplies or drugs from outside the facility in any nearby pharmacies or drug shops. Unfortunately, this left patients unhappy since they thought that nurses and midwives hid the supplies and drugs and denied them such. Imagine a nurse or midwife sharing accommodation with patients in the same ward!

Educating and training a nurse or midwife is very expensive in most training institutions across the country. However, their remuneration and benefits both in the private and public sector are still questionable and wanting. Nurses and midwives, just like any other people in the general population have their own needs, their families too have needs which must be met. Additionally, nurses and midwives also face the same economy just like anyone else in the community. There are no discounted prices for various items in shops or markets out there specifically for nurses or midwives alone.

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We, therefore, request the Ministry of Health and Government of Uganda at large to prioritise nurses and midwives first before anything else especially by ensuring good working conditions for them. Descent accommodation for nurses and midwives is vital. Remember, nurses and midwives are the only professionals who are 24/7 with their patients. We also recommend these entities to add more efforts in empowering nurses and midwives by equipping them with adequate tools to perform their roles better.

The authors are; Namasinga Milly; a Registered Nurse working with Masaka Regional Referral Hospital and
Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s Health Specialist

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