Tuesday 9 May 2017



Introduction: The hue and cry trailing the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) leadership conference that was held in late March, 2017 in Kaduna was prescient. If for nothing else, it showed that nurses, both the leaders and followers, have generally agreed that all is not well with nursing in Nigeria and that we cannot achieve any meaningful professional growth and development without overhauling the structure of the profession in all its ramifications. It also showed that nurses desire a change from the current critically disordered structure of classless multiple qualifications to a well defined meaningful and purposeful vertical professional growth up the ladder to Ph.D. It equally showed that the hideous idea which some retrogressive elements valiantly attempted to foist on us that some other professions – such as Health Education, Psychology, Guidance and Counseling, Nutrition, etc., - were all allied to nursing, have been rejected, killed and buried as no mention of or defense in favour of the term “degrees allied to nursing” was observed in the conference proceedings or any of its originating materials or documents. It is very obvious that those championing such a stupid campaign have been shamed to an extent that they are now afraid to mention it in public.  

The main take of the conference was that schools of Nursing will be re-branded into colleges of Nursing to award HND, RN, RM and RPHN. With this development, it means we are set to re-integrate nursing education and training into the mainstream of Nigerian Educational System and policy. Although, the re-integration is at HND level – a level lower than our expectation of minimum of first degree in nursing and midwifery as “stat” for all nurses and midwives, it remains better in all ramifications than the current apprenticeship bedside training that has no academic value. HND is never and can never be our destination but certainly it is a good “appian way” to our destination. 

Yes – to a good extent! UGONSA’s position has remained making first degree in nursing the baseline for nursing practice. For this, UGONSA has been advocating for upgrade or affiliation of Schools of Nursing and Midwifery to degree awarding institutions. UGONSA has also made a call to reduce the study period for acquiring nursing degree by RN holders to 2 years, from the current 5 years in Nigeria, as is the case in many academically developed countries, to ease the process of upgrade and transition to B.N.Sc. It should be recalled that on 10th November, 2014, UGONSA in a letter – Ref No. UGONSA/014/NUC/O1/SG, addressed to Secretary General of the National University Commission (NUC) –  described the five (5) years spent by nurses and midwives with the basic qualifications (RN/RM) of the NMCN to get first degree in nursing from Nigerian universities as outrageous and requested that RN/RM, which have been recognized as a HND [for employment purposes] be equally treated as HND in academics –  to shorten the course duration for transition from RN/RM to degree from 5 to 2 years. It is instructive to add that UGONSA made such call on the premise that all the post-basic programmes must be upgraded and transformed to post-graduate programmes to be run as masters’ and Ph.D.

 The current move by the council therefore will add the lacking academic skin to RN, which has for long been treated as HND in the civil service but as an equivalent of SSCE in the academic arena. With this development the transitional period from RN to degree would be shortened from 5 to 2 years.

Yes! The firm hegemonic grip of outsiders especially Clergy and Chief Medical Directors, who are not nurses, on the affairs of our educational institutions will be check-mated. Those in missionary and Teaching Hospital owned schools of nursing and midwifery understand better the level of disturbing meddlesomeness witnessed in the hands of these chief executives. Going HND will create a form of autonomous environment for the schools and check-mate the excesses of outsiders on the activities our education and training institutions. 

Besides this, it will equally phase out the era of using poorly prepared tutors to teach in our schools. In schools of nursing and midwifery, it is common to see those that became tutors by the way of RNT programme. After acquiring RN qualification, they zoomed off for the short-cut RNT programme and come back to teach our students without adequate exposure. A lecturer should have advanced preparation and exposure especially at Masters’ and Ph.D levels. Whether we like it or not, the quality of persons handling our educational activities vis-à-vis their academic qualifications contributes a great deal to our public image and respectability. The era of “RN teaching RN” in the name of RNT will be over with our going collegiate.

Yes! While we are not filled with glee at the prospect of something amiss, the loud silence on what becomes of the basic schools of midwifery and our post-basic specialty schools compels otherwise. What seems like a blanket decision to maintain the status quo for schools of midwifery and post-basic specialty schools while only schools of nursing is being touted for upgrade to HND casts specks on  the intention of the promoters of the exercise. We agree that 5 years is too much time to be spent by RN holders in pursuing a nursing degree but strongly disagree that a HND or degree holder has to regress to the post-basic schools to get baseless unclassified qualifications with no academic value in the specialty areas. We equally disagree that schools of midwifery will maintain their current state while only schools of nursing port to HND.

What is worth doing is worth doing well. In whose interest are we retaining the post-basic specialty schools? In whose interest are we abandoning the basic schools of midwifery to remain the way they are? We must put things in their places. Accordingly, post-basic schools should be concurrently upgraded to post-graduate to pave way for a HND or B.N.Sc holder who wishes to specialize in any specialty area of nursing – such as Peripoerative nursing, Anaesthesiology, Accident and emergency, Paediatric nursing, Ophthalmic nursing, ENT nursing, Orthopaedic nursing, Psychiatric and mental health nursing, etc, – to do so progressively at masters’ and then Ph.D level. The intention to retain the specialties at “qualification level” to make us continue to pursue multiple unclassifiable “qualis” after HND or B.N.Sc is misguided and implies that we are not yet ready for any genuine radical change but rather have accepted mediocrity as our inalienable norm.

The monetary resources expended to obtain a post-basic qualification is more than what is spent to get a masters’ degree yet one million “post-basic qualis” can never equal a bachelor’s degree let alone a masters’ degree. Whatever informed the decision to maintain the staus quo for the post-basics can be for any other thing but certainly not for the progressive interest of the nurses. Whatever be the case, the message is very loud and clear – that nurses have said NO to “unclassified qualifications devoid of academic value” be it at basic or post-basic level and anything short of that is unacceptable.
We are too much of a cynic to believe that nothing is amiss in the current adventure if the post-basic specialties are not concurrently upgraded to post-graduate levels such that after bagging the HND or B.N.Sc, nurses can progress vertically to get their masters and then PhD rather than moving in a vicious cycle of waste in the name of multiple unclassified post-basic qualifications as is obtainable today. 

Our council is named “Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria” because it regulates both nursing and midwifery. But an unbiased evaluation of its activities and policies can leave one to infer that it is more of a nursing than midwifery council. This is because midwifery is yet to receive the type of attention that has been given to nursing. 

In our universities, we run only bachelor of nursing science. We are yet to commence bachelor of Midwifery. Now we are set to run HND in Nursing but remain mute on what becomes of midwifery. Most midwives that ran the basic midwifery programme find it difficult to secure admission into the B.N.Sc programme, yet we feel less concerned about their plight. It is high time we created a Bachelor of Midwifery (B.M) degree programme, as a single honours, or modify the existing BNSc programme into dual honours – to be awarded as bachelor of nursing and midwifery. Our sister profession, Medicine, awards its degree as a dual honours in Nigeria to accommodate medicine and surgery. Thus, their first degree is bachelor of medicine and surgery abbreviated as MBBS. We stand to gain more if we run ours as Nursing and Midwifery to cover our much neglected midwifery in our degree programmes by making our first degree a “double majors” of Nursing and Midwifery – BNBM (Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Midwifery). This will give midwifery equal stake and ease off abridgement to degree of those that had studied midwifery at basic level or HND as the case may be. For equity and fairness, the current metamorphosis into HND should be equally extended to Midwifery.


1.   Nurses have said no to unclassified bedside, apprenticeship-type nursing and midwifery education – be it at basic or post-basic level.
       2. Nurses want the critical disorder in our training and educational systems to be overhauled such that our qualifications shall have academic value with a progressive vertical advancement up the ladder to PhD level.

3. UGONSA re-affirms its desire to see first degree(s) in nursing and midwifery become the basic qualification(s) for practice of nursing and midwifery in Nigeria in the near future.

        4. UGONSA abhors the 5-year duration currently spent by Registered Nurses in pursuing first degree in nursing in Nigerian universities especially as it takes holders of such qualification two years or less to get same nursing degree from universities in developed countries that are better ranked than Nigerian universities.
       5. UGONSA equally abhors the hegemonic grip, meddlesomeness and interference in our education and training by outsiders especially Chief Medical Directors and Clergy, whose institutions own a great number of the existing schools of Nursing and Midwifery, and supports any effort or move to tame such.

       6. UGONSA welcomes the current move for upgrade from schools of nursing to colleges of nursing for the award of HND but advises that such be extended to midwifery and that post-basics should not be left out but concurrently upgraded to post-graduates as masters’ and Ph.D in nursing.

     7. UGONSA envisages that in the forseeable future, dons – in the likes of Doctors/Professors of Perioperative Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, Paediatric Nursing, Orthopaedic Nursing, etc – will be very visible in the clinical settings, only if we respect the burning nurses’ wish and desire  for a vertically structured progressive system of education and training that shall count both in professional and academic sense unlike the current critically disordered system that awards multiple qualifications that are devoid of academic value.
     8. UGONSA makes case for establishment of departments of midwifery in our universities or on the alternative – modifying the existing B.N.S c degree to a “double majors” to be awarded as Bachelors of Nursing and Midwifery (BNBM).
        9. UGONSA encourages schools of nursing to go for direct affiliation with nearby universities as such is more beneficial than transformation to HND awarding institutions. But where such is not feasible, the HND structure should be embraced as it remains better than the current bedside structure. 

UGONSA…….Make a positive change!

This piece should be cited as follows:
University Graduates of Nursing Science Association [UGONSA]. (2017). NMCN 2017 Kaduna Leadership Conference:  The Odds and Glees. Position Paper/Diary.

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