At least 60 nurse midwife upgrading students from the Malawi College of Health Sciences (MCHS) Blantyre Campus risk missing their licensure examinations administered by the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi after their college allegedly failed to comply with assessment procedures.
The council is scheduled to administer the examinations for different levels starting from next Monday in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu which would have resulted in the said students being recognised as registered nurses.
Some affected students who spoke to The Nation have since complained against the development, arguing it is infringing on their rights to education and work as the development means they will have to wait a little longer before they can be recognised as registered nurses.
Registrar and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi Dr. Isabella Msolomba Musisi confirmed in an interview yesterday the council dispatched a team to the college to monitor and evaluate where it was revealed that some assessments were not done on the students.
“I had sent a team to the college some six weeks ago, but we did not get evidence that some of the assessments were done on the students, so we told them that, as a council we could not allow them to sit the exams,” said Msolomba Musisi yesterday.
According to the council, some students were set to sit the examinations when they did not actually complete and accumulate necessary hours of clinical placement as stipulated by the council’s regulations.
Thus, the nurses’ council advised MCHS on September 20 2016 that the students would have to wait for another round of examinations to be administered in April next year unless the students are brought back to the college and suitably assessed within a specified period.
Currently, students from all the nursing colleges are in their campuses for refresher course in readiness for the examinations.
The registrar said the college management had promised her that the students would be called to be properly assessed and “we responded that what we want is a documented evidence of the assessment.”
She said: “As of now, we are waiting for them to produce real evidence to the council that these students were really assessed. We don’t want to compromise quality and if they were falsifying [cases], they must know that they are not only killing the students, but also compromising the quality of standards of the profession.”
Efforts to get a comment from the executive director of MCHS Tanack Masache proved futile as he could not speak to this reporter when contacted upon introduction of the subject.
However, the college’s efforts to try and address the issue were held back by the workers strike that resulted in all the three MCHS campuses in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Zomba being shut down since early this month.
The members of staff embarked on an industrial action demanding salary increment, claiming that their salaries are 80 percent lower than those of their counterparts in other training institutions run by statutory corporations.
But commenting on the issue, president of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (NONM) Dorothy Ngoma backed the council, saying its action was not meant to punish the students, but the problem was with the college for presenting the students to write the examinations without completing their clinical hours.
“I am aware of the issue because some members complained to us. But this is a professional practice; you don’t just go to write exams without actually completing the necessary clinical hours.
“I have actually talked to some students and explained to them about this mess. We have the responsibility to protect our members, but at the same time it is not acceptable and it cannot be done for a student not to complete the required numbers of hours of experience and then be presented to the council to write the examinations.
“If they produce evidence to the council that they completed the clinical hours then we can challenge the council or the college in court, but in the absence of the evidence it is simple they just have to go back and redo [the recommended clinical hours]. Similarly, if they fail the examinations they will have to go back in class and repeat the studies because they will be dealing with human lives,” explained Ngoma.n