Nursing school thrives despite pandemic
DESPITE THE COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the local education sector, a little-known nursing school in St Ann’s Bay is expanding as it trains nurses for both the local and international markets.
Just six years since it opened its doors in 2015, the privately owned Triple M Nursing Institute has trained and graduated close to 600 persons in the fields of practical nursing, geriatric nursing, paediatric nursing, and first aid at the diploma level.
Come October, phlebotomy will be added to the curriculum, as the school sees its intake for the new school year rise to 65, with 32 on roll previously.
The school has managed to operate while observing the strict protocols associated with the pandemic. All this takes place even as the public school system takes a beating from the COVID-19, which has caused the curtailment of face-to-face classes across most education levels.
“So, Triple M Nursing Institute is growing in spite of the pandemic,” founder, director and principal of the school, Nurse Marsha McDonald-Henry, assured The Gleaner.
The pandemic has no doubt increased the need for more health personnel across both the public and private sectors, a fact acknowledged by McDonald-Henry.
“And, of course, we are much needed. The health sector is basically calling for us, especially in this time, and we have quality, highly trained nurses that span the health sector in mental health, in community health; they work at the St Ann Infirmary, we have workers at the Trelawny Infirmary, in the different hospitals elsewhere.”
In addition to preparing students who are certified to work internationally, the school has trained students from The Bahamas and the Cayman Islands as well, adding the ‘regional’ tag to its clientele.
“We are backed by the Ministry of Education, accreditation bodies American Medical Certification Association (AMCA), they are with us now for a year; City and Guilds International has been with us forever, from the beginning of the institution.
“Under the City and Guilds band, we do focus on the international accreditation, and with that they (graduates) can go overseas, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, etc, that [countries] accept City and Guilds. With AMCA, the students are also able to get certified internationally; so whenever they are certified here, they can go abroad and work with that same certification.”
McDonald-Henry says that the training of persons to work in the health sector, whether to satisfy local or international demand, is quite important. Apart from making persons employment-ready, the training also offers a sense of personal satisfaction to the graduates, she believes.
According to her: “The training means a lot, it serves as great aspiration for the nurses, an opportunity for the nurses. It’s not a profession that will have them just being trained and then they’re home and not doing anything. The health sector is always looking for someone, always looking for trained personnel to work, and therefore Triple M Nursing Institute is now making training easier, and making more nurses available to work, both locally and overseas.”
Describing herself as a woman of God who has moved up from a humble beginning, McDonald-Henry said the institution is her way of helping to build the nation.
“I went to England. I studied abroad and then I came back home and decided that I’m going to pour into Jamaica, land we love. I seek to help with the healing of broken women, and now men; people who have it in their minds or thought they couldn’t make it. People need not just an education, but need somebody to believe in them,” she pointed out.
Last Friday, 54 male and female students graduated in a drive-by ceremony at the Discovery Bay Community Centre, in order to observe the protocols, ending a successful 18-month training period at the school.
Deborah McDonald, who started working at the St Ann Infirmary last November, in the middle of her training to become a practical nurse, said the training at Triple M was ideal.
“The training has tremendously improved my skills, to be honest,” she told The Gleaner. “I learnt a lot, how to deal with your patients. You have to have a passion to do the job; without the passion it’s nothing. I am more than happy I did the course, and, in fact, nursing chose me. I didn’t choose nursing, because I wanted to become an executive chef.”
Guest speaker at the graduation, Minister of Religion Shawn Stephenson, hailed the achievements of the school, saying it offered hope where there seemed to be hopelessness.
He urged the graduates to understand that the sky is not the limit, as the saying goes, but rather, it’s the mind that limits a person.
“It’s actually their minds, that is the limit; so as long as you can dream it, you can achieve it,” he urged.