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By Carlena Knight

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A top nursing official believes that a variety of incentives need to be implemented by the relevant officials in order to address the migration of nurses in the country.

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) Soria Dupie-Winston suggests that the availability of scholarships and even the offering of specialty nursing courses at the UWI Five Islands Campus could encourage nurses to remain in the country.

“I have spoken to several nurses and if this offered here, within two years of it being offered we will have our full quota of certified nurses,” she said yesterday as the ABNA observes Nurses Week.

“If every year we could have scholarships, even if it’s at least two nurses, and if we can invest in the capacity of building nurses in Antigua and Barbuda we will would be at a better position. If you don’t have that financial support to go abroad and study you won’t make it. Presently, UWI does not have that here, but in Jamaica so if the powers may be would consider that and implement it then that would be a great incentive,” Dupie-Winston explained.

She admitted that there is a demand for nurses of various disciplines to come on board.

The ABNA head revealed that there presently are no functioning Family Nurse Practitioners at the public clinics or at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MJSMC).

“Presently, Antigua and Barbuda has 13 open positions for Public Health Nurses; there are only five functioning right now. We really need nurses in that field. We need to have nurses wanting to go into that field as well as, in the Family Nurse Practioners field. We do not have any nurses functioning in that role right now. We have several working in different fields but none working at the clinics or MSJMC,” she shared.

When asked if she believes patriotism plays a role in why some nurses remain in Antigua and Barbuda, Dupie Winston admitted that it does but she mentioned that sometimes when balancing the pros and cons, nurses are forced to migrate.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, most of the events earmarked for Nurses Week 2021 will be held virtually, including an award ceremony to honour those who have given more than 20 years of faithful service to the nursing profession in Antigua and Barbuda.

Yesterday, nurses around the island donned their fuchsia pink t-shirts as a tribute to Nurse Cynthia ‘Love’ Byers, who died from Covid-19 in February.

A health walk and appreciation ceremony are also on the cards.

The observance and honoring of nurses throughout Antigua and Barbuda began in 1948, some 73 years ago.

The theme for this year’s Nurses Week is: “Nurses: Resilient Frontline Healthcare Providers.”