An event of importance took place Tuesday this week as a group of nurse practitioners graduated following an 18-month course run by the Fiji National University.
It was a groundbreaking course in more ways than one. First, the 12 nurse practitioners who graduated will dramatically increase the pool of local primary health care service providers, helping to ease the current shortage. Secondly, this was the first time for Fiji National University’s school of nursing to run the training program outside of its Suva campus. The course was run by FNU lecturer Kavekini Neidiri, with support of the Pacific Island Health Officers Association.
The next step for the 12 graduates is a one-year clinical internship under the supervision of doctors to provide clinical and preventive care to patients in Majuro, mostly at Majuro hospital, said Dr. Greg Dever, PIHOA’s human resources manager who assisted with the rollout of the nurse practitioner training. “At the end of the year, they will have a final examination, and then be licensed as nurse practitioners,” he said.
Seventeen started the training 18 months ago and 12 made it through. To qualify for this training, the nurses and public health staff had to have a minimum of five years experience working in the health field. They also took a qualifying course at the College of the Marshall Islands held in the lead up to the nurse practitioner training. Thirty health staff signed up for the course and 20 passed. Ultimately, 17 enrolled in the 18-month training program.
Dever said the last nurse practitioners to be trained in the Micronesian region were trained on Guam in the 1980s.
“There is a shortage of local primary care practitioners,” said Dever, who emphasized that “local” is important in ensuring quality care of patients because there are no language barriers for nurse practitioners.
Read more about this in the March 16, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.