Nursing is one of the noblest professions in Nigeria, with myriads of amazing prospects for nurses in clinical practice, education, research, entrepreneurship, and administration. This post is about what you must know before becoming a nurse in Nigeria.
Against the odds of quack infiltration, the profession through the regulatory body – Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN), has been able to uphold a world-class standard of education, practice competence, and a fair public image.
These glitters account for the stiff competition that is involved in securing an admission in the college to pursue a career in nursing.
Becoming a nurse in Nigeria, the training path established by NMCN
Nurses in Nigeria are licensed by the NMCN to practice professionally after undergoing rigorous and thorough educational and clinical training and have passed required professional examinations.
There are a few training pathways to attain this professional status.
Becoming a nurse in Nigeria requires going through the nursing training either in a School of Nursing, School of Basic midwifery or in a University.
The training in the School of nursing is a hospital-based one that runs for three years and leads to the award of a Certificate in General Nursing.
The program is designed to allow the nursing student to learn in the classroom for half of the period of the training, and the other half the students are on clinical postings.
Similarly, the school of basic midwifery offers a training package that trains midwives for a period of three years.
Although this pathway is no longer popular, as it is gradually being phased out.
Nurses are also trained in several universities in Nigeria.
The program runs for five years and leads to the award of both professional certifications, and a bachelor degree.
These pathways allocates more time to learning classroom for student nurses, and less for clinical postings, as compared to the earlier mention training pathways.
In the fourth year of their study, student nurses attempt the professional examination for the award of a Certificate in General Nursing (RN) and, in the fifth year, they study Midwifery, and Public Health Nursing, which is optional.
At the end of the fifth year, they would attempt the professional examinations, that would certify them as midwives (RM) and public health nurses (RPH).
In addition to these professional certifications, they are also awarded a bachelor degree.
Hence, an overall qualification of “RN, RM, RPH, BNsc”.
After graduation, to become a nurse is planned a compulsory one-year internship program
Upon graduation, they are expected to undergo a compulsory one-year internship program, which is designed to ground them in clinical experience and help them hone their clinical skills, after which they would then receive their license to practice.
A new pathway has recently been introduced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.
Some of the institutions that train nurses across Nigeria have hit the ground running on this pathway.
This pathway requires that an upgrade be done to the conventional schools of Nursing that offer a three-year nursing program and awards a certificate of General Nursing (RN).
The upgrade would enable them to award more than just an RN.
Nursing training institutions that get the required accreditation would be able to incorporate midwifery into the program curriculum as well as public health.
The program would run for four years, with intensive classroom learning, interjected with necessary clinical postings.
In the third year, student nurses would attempt their first professional examination, that would lead to the award of a certificate in General Nursing (RN), then in the fourth year, they would study either midwifery (RM) or public health (RPH).
They don’t have the opportunity to study both unlike the nurses training in the universities. In addition to these professional qualifications, they are also awarded an HND.
Hence, an overall qualification of “RN, RM/RPH, HND”.
Sequel to this the student nurses would then undergo one year of intensive clinical training.
Upon completion of this clinical attachment, they then receive their license to practice as nurses in Nigeria.
By extension, this upgrade also affects post-basic nursing programs leading to the professional certification in various specialities.
All nursing training institutions that offer post-basic courses are required to undergo an upgrade to offer postgraduate diploma in nursing for graduates with HND qualification who intend to enrol for a Master degree, and all the post-basic courses should lead to the award of a Master degree.
Specialisation in nursing in Nigeria requires further education and training in the chosen speciality.
Becoming A Nurse in Nigeria: there are several areas where nurses specialise in Nigeria, namely
- Accident and Emergency Nursing
- Anaesthetic Nursing
- Orthopaedic Nursing
- Mental Health Nursing
- Obstetrics and Gynaecological Nursing (midwifery)
- Ophthalmic Nursing
- Cardiothoracic Nursing
- Renal Nursing
- Peri-operative Nursing
- Critical Care Nursing
- Occupational Health Nursing
- Clinical Research Nursing
- Paediatric Nursing
- Geriatric Nursing
- Public Health Nursing.
Nurses who have already undergone General Nursing training and have been certified to practice in Nigeria can enrol for these training in schools of post-basic nursing.
Most of these programs run for a period of one year, while others run over 18 months to 2 years.
There are interesting employment’s opportunities for nurses in Nigeria.
Nurses are always needed
However, the career prospects and remuneration is largely dependent on the speciality, years of experience, skills and clinical competence, and in some cases level of education.
Job opportunities are available in the intensive care unit, for critical care nursing specialist, which may be for an adult, or a pediatric Intensive care unit (ICU).
Pediatric nurses can also work in the pediatric ICU if they have some years of experience and competence in the pediatric speciality.
General nurses have employment opportunities in general medical and surgical units.
Perioperative nurses work in the theatres alongside surgeons.
Anaesthetic nurses also work in critical care units as well as in the theatre, administering anaesthesia, and nursing the patient to recovery in the post anaesthetic care unit.
Midwives can work in labour wards, maternity homes, or in the community, along with public health nurses at primary health care levels.
Renal nurses work in dialysis units, and kidney transplant centres, caring for patients with kidney diseases undergoing dialysis, or kidney transplant, or other invasive procedures involving the kidneys, such as kidney biopsy.
Occupational health nurses in Nigeria work in industrial sites and factory clinics, to provide first aid treatment for work-related hazards and injuries sustained at work.
Apart from the opportunities in clinical practice available to nurses in Nigeria, there are job roles nurses take up outside their conventional clinical duties
Health insurance is one amazing route nurses ply in Nigeria, pursuing their career.
They work in different units in private health insurance companies, commonly in the call centre, where they interface between the company, patients and hospitals that provide patients’ care.
Clinical research is also another viable career pathway that is available to nurses in Nigeria, although there are limited opportunities in this area.
Nurses can secure positions as clinical research nurses, coordinating the processes of clinical research, alongside a principal investigator.
Such opportunities are available in research institutes in Nigeria, such as the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, as well as some international research organizations with sites in Nigeria.
Finally, nurses can also work as educators and university professors in schools and colleges of nursing across Nigeria.
Nurses in Nigeria only earn modest incomes, a few that have very good employers, or work in very lucrative specialities earn handsomely, while those who work in privately owned healthcare facilities in rural areas earn below the margin.
On average, nurses that work in the public health sector earn more than those in the private setting.
A new starter, with a general nursing certificate, earns an average of N70,000 (approximately 184 U.S. dollars), a pediatric nurse, like most other specialist nurses, earns an average of N100,000, while critical care nurses, as well as anaesthetic nurses, earn an average of N140,000.
A clinical research nurse earns an average of N110,000.
Nurses that work in health insurance companies earn an average of N120,000.
The income is not a fixed price in private parastatals, as there is no fixed scale.
Every management determines what to pay its employees.
However, for the public health sector nurses in Nigeria, the income is relatively stable as they are paid on a standard salary scale called CONHESS (Consolidated Health Salary Structure).
The pay scale for nurses in Nigeria according to National salaries income and wages commission (2009) is summarized in the table below