Nineteen local nurses have been selected to work in Trinidad and Tobago and could leave before the end of this year.
Acting Senior Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health Beverly Felix told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview today that the ministry is currently preparing documentation to send off the successful applicants.
The ministry, she said, was given three months to complete the entire process. A majority of local nurses are Cuban-trained.
Felix told SNO that the recruitment process was encouraging, but the only factor that created a barrier for some nurses was the criteria for eligibility.
She explained that it was a requirement to pass the regional examinations and registered with the Nursing Council of St. Lucia.
“Many of them were not successful in their exams and were not eligible for the opportunity in Trinidad,” she stated.
Asked whether this would encourage persons to work harder, she said it would, but according to her, the examination is a very rigid and challenging one.
“It doesn’t really speak to whether people can work hard or not, but it is challenging,” the official told SNO.
Felix said most student nurses sit the exam twice, explaining that the standard is very high. “That is one of the things that was pleasing to the Trinidadian team because they hold their nurses at a similar standard.”
It is hoped that the local batch of nurses will gain more experience, while earning a monthly income.
While the Trinidadian team has hinted that they may return in search for more nurses in the future, Felix said discussion in that regard have not commenced.
“For now they are looking at the current set and making sure that everything is in place for them to start working in Trinidad,” she added.
The nurses will be placed to work in teaching hospitals during their stint in the twin-island republic. There are currently three such hospitals there.
The initiative will see local St. Lucian-registered nurses being employed to work in Trinidad and Tobago for a minimum period of two years.
While there have been criticisms about this move, Health Minister Alvina Reynolds has stated that the initiative is to create opportunities for local nurses who are unemployed, but have the requisite qualifications.
Reynolds said the island is faced with a surplus of nurses, especially with a number of nurses having returned from Cuba recently. While on the other hand, each year, more student nurses continue to graduate from local universities.
The St. Lucia Nurses Association (SLNA) has argued that while the organisation is not against having nurses employed, government should seek to employ these nurses, claiming that there is a shortage right here.