School Nurse position -Is this a ticking bomb in terms of Nurses employment⁉️

Most of the time I try to avoid discussing nurses’ politics, however, I am so much attached to nurses’ welfare to an extent that I cannot manage. The topic is  so dear to my heart.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, it was expected that all schools were only to open after they have met Ministry of Health’s (MOH’s) guidelines. Among these  guidelines was the one that touched on human resource, and that is the employment of experienced medical personnel  to help, advise and manage students’ health at the point of first contact right  before referral. Every school is mandated to implement this guideline. 

Did we not see this coming? 
Of course ,we did and I have read several posts from nurses on social media advising the government to employ nurses  to each school before opening. In lieu of this, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that this   policy has been in existence for a while,clearly stipulating that a nurse to be employed by each school, sadly it has been utterly ignored. 

This brings about few pertinent questions that leaders need to ponder on.Such include:-

 -Do we have facts on this form of employment for nurses?
– What are the impending  challenges for this type of employment? 
– What plans are in place to avoid crisis(es) from this type of employment? 

1. Most of these school nurse posts are being advertised unofficially. When you look at the  advert ni kama ile advert ya kutafuta cooks wa hizo shule. You might not have a problem on how a job is advertised but my brothers and sisters, that’s an eye opener for the kind of job  you are going to do(personal opinion, of course.)

2.In the said adverts,    the schools are insisting on female gender  for the posts. Is this not publicly contravening the principle of gender balance? Are these schools sidelining the boy child in schools or we only have female health problems in schools? Whichever way the heads of these schools are thinking, no nurse should be denied a job because of his/her gender.   It is against our constitution and principles of governance.

3. Terms of Employment
This is a bomb in waiting. As these young nurses are flocking into the principals’ or head of schools’ offices, which terms of employment are they going to  assent to? Is this going to be permanent or temporary employment? My guess is as good as yours, they are going to be employed on board.In schools, we have teachers and most of the school staff  are employed by school Board of Management (BOM). Such kind of employment is at the whims of the school principals. You can be hired or fired by the principal at any time  it deems so. All the school honchos need to do is   just to  inform the Board of Management of the action.

As mentioned above, the Board of Management which is the employer, culturally pays its staff Ksh. 5000-20000 depending on the size of the school.  I have interacted with nurses who were being  remunerated by schools so well and when I asked was reminded they were working for international schools.

4. Unqualified Personnel

We  already know such kind of employment is going to be controlled by one person, the principal. As such,chances of the principals employing quacks are so high, they are going to get their relatives with no nursing qualifications and these guys are going to use the protected name  “nurse” and with this even your children are going to be in the unsafe hands

My question to you reading this piece,what do you think is the  approximate salary these nurses should earn? Whom will you blame for such salaries?
I understand we have been shifting the blame these novice nurses whenever they sign up  for   raw deals, however,  basing on personal experience while  hunting for a favorable nursing job in Kenya  I would also have  settled for any salary on the table for the sake of survival. 

This is just but a tip of the iceberg.

The more we open up the discussion on such rampant issues, the more we will find out how our leaders, through institutions like KNUN, NNAK and NCK need to heed to the wake up call and prevent this awaiting bomb from exploding and causing harm in immeasurable proportions, some of which the affected parties may never recover from. Well, should these leaders find time to even think of the issue then  am just proposing one permanent solution to this.

Way out

1. Central government should employ these nurses and second them to schools.  For this to happen, we need our institutions to act swiftly thus; 

– KNUN to prioritize this discussion and come up with the petition to Central Government as urgent as today. 

– NNAK and KPNA should come up with clear nurses’ practice guidelines covering and including school nurses, especially with a specification as to their job description, if not  these guys are going to practice also as cooks. In my former school the  nurse  was also serving as a cook. So these are true experience that our fellow nurses are going to face and maybe that’s why the female gender is favorable up.

-NCK to come up with regulatory advice to the government over the same within no time. We understand even some schools might even employ unqualified people in the name of nurses. NCK should strictly regulate this sector. 

Were we to miss this topic, even our institutions could have missed it but now it’s here with us, let’s objectively delve into it and emerge  with solutions.

By Simiyu Paul_RN, the Founder and Managing Director-KenyanNurse Consultants Ltd. (UK registered nurse).

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