The Bahamas was grappling with a shortage of nurses – a global challenge – even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced health care professionals to become even more resilient, skillful and resourceful. A depletion of skilled professionals in an era of deadly infectious disease is the daunting reality facing hundreds of aspiring nurses who are graduating from University of The Bahamas (UB) this month.
UB held its first virtual School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (SNAHP) Pinning Ceremony on Wednesday, 26th May, a celebrated rite of passage. The ceremony has become a symbolic representation of the integrity, dignity and resolve of the persons who are one step closer to assuming critical roles in the health care profession.
Vice President of Academic Affairs at UB Dr. Maria Oriakhi told the graduands that although the world has been celebrating the vital role that nurses play in society, the numbers of those who serve need to be increased.
“Just as the field of nursing is important to society, so is the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions to University of The Bahamas. We recognize the critical role we play in preparing world class nurses to work in hospitals and health care facilities, both locally and internationally,” noted Dr. Oriakhi, whose mother, the late Senior Retired Nursing Officer Thelma Rose served in the profession for 41 years.
“It is a fact that nurses are in great demand worldwide and the high rate of attrition in the nursing profession is alarming. Now more than ever, we must increase our human resources in the health care profession.”
While being professionally skilled is a vital attribute, Dr. Oriakhi added that those entering the procession must also accord their patients with compassion, sensitivity and understanding while being firm and grounded.
“This nurses pinning ceremony is a rite of passage for our nursing graduates. It represents the successful completion of a rigorous and sometimes torturous curriculum. Wear your pins proudly. You have worked hard and you deserve to be proud of this achievement and to celebrate your success.”
More than 40 grads from the Bachelor of Science Degree Nursing Programme and approximately 20 grads from the Post-Basic Diploma in Midwifery Nursing Programme received nursing pins.
Guest speaker Anastarcia Palacious, a UB alum, and owner of The Social Light Media affirmed the integral role that health care professionals also play in the mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals and society. She recounted personal details of how members of this profession helped her weather moments of grief and medical challenges. She urged the grads to be bold and believe in the power of their own potential and impact.
“You also have the opportunity to impact the way we think and do medicine, but it requires you to be bold enough, to believe in yourself enough, to stand in your own light enough to be willing to write your story; to be able to see things differently than other people, to unleash that same creativity to unlock opportunities for us all to improve, but only if you can stand confident in your training and value who you are,” she said.
She also challenged them to use their creativity and imagination to transform health care.
“Even though today is your pinning ceremony, you must never stop learning; never stop pushing the boundaries of discovery and knowledge. Never stop trying to improve the things around you; be curious, be committed and most of all be consistent,” she added.
Chair of SNAHP Ms. Leah Rolle applauded the grads for their perseverance and achievements.
“Valuable lessons have been learnt and experiences garnered, lessons that will hopefully sustain your thirst and commitment throughout your careers. Indeed, it is these lessons and experiences that we expect you to harness in leveraging your creativity as you transition into or continue your contributions to the nursing profession,” she noted. “Our profession needs creative thinkers. We need new approaches to age-old challenges that plague the health care system. We need dedicated life-long learners and researchers. We need transformational leadership.”