Twenty-five trainees have been inducted into the Enrolled Nursing Assistant (ENA) programme, launched with the aim of continuously improving the delivery of healthcare in Tobago.
Over a two-year period, the apprentices will be trained and then support Registered Nurses in performing key functions, inclusive of wound care and taking readings from patients such as weight, height and blood pressure.
Speaking during the December 3 launch at the Tobago Rehabilitation and Empowerment Centre (TREC), Fort Street in Scarborough where the training commenced, chairman of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) Ingrid Melville considered the commemoration to be a “success story.”
Manager, Nursing Education Unit of the Ministry of Education, Joycelyn Clarke, was delighted when told of this programme.
Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Dr Agatha Carrington said the effort was born out of the need to address the gap in terms of this category of employees. This, she said came following discussions and commitments led by her division together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in Trinidad, the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) and the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy.
“This is as a result of natural attrition and retirements. In addition, the last cohort trained by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education was in 2017, these ENAs were never enough for Tobago.
"Therefore, the division felt that we should train this cadre of staff to service both our primary and secondary needs in Tobago. We really required this support,” the secretary said as she gave the assurance that the division was committed to ensuring that funding and other needs are available for this batch of trainees.
“We would be providing you with a modern hospital for your practicum and internship, we would provide you with a stipend to assist you while you are in the classroom for two years; so you have one year theory and one year of internship or clinicals. We commit to provide a budget for this particular cohort of professionals who we are growing.
“The Ministry of Education has committed to assign a programme co-ordinator to give technical oversight to this programme and to use the course descriptors from the national ENA programme,” she said noting that over 1,000 applications were received for the programme from which 25 were chosen.
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said he was "heartened to witness initiatives and programmes which will strengthen the efficiency of our health sector, and the quality of life of our people.” He noted that over the years, many improvements have been made in the quality of healthcare offered on the island, admitting that there are still some challenges that need to be resolved.
This training, he said will be important to producing caring healthcare professionals.
“In my view, the aim of this programme could never be to simply produce more enrolled nursing assistants to fill the demand. There should be a greater aim and that is to produce a cadre of health professionals who exude general and genuine empathy in the execution of their duties. This is extremely important, as nursing assistants are exposed to patients in some of their most vulnerable states; let’s be honest, if one can avoid it, no one wants to be given a bath, get dressed or even be taken to the restroom by someone who does so coldly and grudged,” he said urging the potential ENAs to "respect the dignity of those who will be entrusted in your care during your clinicals, and when you eventually become employed in the health sector."