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CHINYERE ACHUKWU: Why I abandoned engineering for nursing - News - Nursesarena Forum

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CHINYERE ACHUKWU: Why I abandoned engineering for nursing by Idowu Olabode : November 18, 2014, 04:42:43 PM


Many would be comfortable with a degree in Chemical engineering – get a job, probably in oil and gas firm and then settled on the sunny side of life, but not so for Engr Chinyere Achukwu.

This graduate of Chemical engineering put aside her engineering certificate to study nursing.

This mother of four in her early 40s, made first class and set a new academic record in the department at Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State.

She spoke to VINCENT KALU on the challenges and how she is set to give nursing profession a human face in Nigeria.

Question: Why did you dump engineering for nursing?

It was the experience I had in 2008, when I went to US to deliver my last child. I saw different nurses from what I have been seeing in Nigeria. I met nurses who have human faces and have personal interests in their patients and I was surprised because it was the opposite of what we have in Nigeria.

The way they took care of me inspired me to read nursing to change the face of nursing in Nigeria.

The way nurses treat their patients in Ni­geria is nothing to write home about andthere and then, I decided the time for change has come and I was ready to change it and bring about the Florence Nightingale model of nursing in Nigeria.

I asked my aunt over there what it would take to read nursing, she told me that as an engineer, it is not difficult as people study nursing from any professions but, in Nigeria, it may be a little difficult, because I don’t have nursing background and they would want me to start from 100 or 200 level.

I decided to brave the odds and asked my uncle, a professor in Nigeria, he told me that I should have a Cambridge Certificate Advanced level in Biology. I enrolled with the British Council for Cambridge exam and was attending tutorials at Yaba, with students who were the same age with my children, whose parents wanted them to travel abroad for to read medical courses and I wrote the exam and passed.

 With the result I was admitted at 200 level to read Nursing at Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State.I picked up and humbled myself as some of the students could be the same age with my children and some of the lecturers were much younger than I am.

 I saw some older nurses who were matrons and came for degree programmes in nursing. I thank God that I graduated at the regular time and made First class and set new academic record in the school.

Question: Are you now going to US to add to what they have or stay here and stay here and practicenursing?

I will like to acquire more knowledge, I don’t think what I have here is enough. I intend to read further and return home and develop what we have here.

The nursing we do here is still behind in terms of what is obtainable over there,in terms of facilities and equipment. The ethics is another area we are very back­ward, in terms of how we relate with patients.

 However, things seem to be improving as some teaching hospitals have started with what  we called, Care Plan- that is, carrying a plan for the treatment of a patient and assigning him to a nurse.

I would like to add touch to the nursing profession in this country. I now know there is a wide difference between the degree nursing and the basic nursing.

Nursing is not just about carrying bed pan, checking BP or given medication, the primary function of a nurse anywhere in the world is to make sure that we restore health, prevent illness, you have to do things that prevent ill­ness.

 You can’t say that our main job is to give drugs, there is more to it. Every patient is important and you make sure you alleviate his suffering. If he is in pain, you must do something to alleviate the pains; you tell the patients what to do in order not to fall ill. That is where the modern nursing is now.

I want to encourage and advise nurses on change of attitudes and also implore them not to travel outside. If some of our nurses in the developed climes return, it will have so much impact on the way nursing is practiced in Nigeria.

Nigeria is lacking academic nurses; there are only four professors of nursing in the country today as big as Nigeria is. Most people want to do nursing at postgraduate level, but there are no professors to supervise them.

Question: These auxiliary nurses, where do they fall?

It is only in this country that we hear of auxiliary nurse; it is not obtainable else where. It is just euphemism for quack nurse.

What they have abroad are qualified nurses. These auxiliary or quack nurses never attended recognised nursing schools, they just go to private hospitals and the doctors while treating patients will tell them, to ‘give me syringe, give me scissors etc’ and with time they acquire it as a skill and they now start giving injections.

 They don’t know the physiology of where they are going into and can kill out of ignorance.

 Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council doesn’t not take it kindly with any hospital they find a quack performing the function of a nurse.Anybody who wants to practice nursing should either go through the nursing school or university.

Question: What have been your life challenges?

Life in itself is challenging. Even as a mother, you have a lot of challenges in raising up the children, from being pregnant and the rigours associated with it.

In academic, you have to attend lectures all the times. You have go on posting where you could stand for hours.

Question: With the challenges as mother, wife, did they affect your performance in school?

No, it didn’t affect me.I made first class and was given automatic appointment as a lecturer in the department. Since the inception of the department, they have had one first class and mine is the second with the academic record.

Question: What was your lowest moment?

It was the day I heard of my mother’s death. I was in Los Angeles when she died, even though I was due to return home. Nobody told me until I returned and was told that she died few days ago.

 The shock was so much from which I’m yet to recover.

Question: How did you meet your husband?

We met at a party in our village. There was this young man who was sitting quietly at the party. Later he proposed to me and the first night we spent together was unforgettable. None of us can ever forget it. It is memorable.

Question: Was the academic record because of your science background, as a chemical engineer?

Not necessarily. Everybody in the nursing class has science background. The only edge an engineer is mathematics, but even at that mathematics is very minor. Engineering has nothing to do with nursing. I had a lot of challenges like reading novels, but I prefer calculations. I have to condition myself to reading a lot of pages as opposed to calculation that I was at home with.

Question: What informed your reading chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering wasn’t really what I wanted to read. I wanted to read pharmacy when I left school. At that time, I made University of Nigeria, my first choice. When the JAMB result came out,the off point was 270 and I had 259 on the merit. My father was a bank manager then and I told him, he said he wasn’t interested to beg or lobby anybody since my name didn’t appear on the merit list, even though he had friends who were vice chancellors and customers to his bank, he said he wouldn’t stoop to beg anybody for the admission and said I should study harder if I wanted to read pharmacy.

Luckily, one of my cousins was going to Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), and she wanted to read accounting and I accompanied her to the school, getting there I met my family friend, who was the head of department of accountancy. He said, my cousin was qualified to read accountancy and asked what of you? I said, I wanted to read pharmacy. He said what of chemical engineering that females equally study it, and said I was qualified. I had As in the subjects except, English. I agreed because it was better to read chemical engineering than staying at home to write JAMB the following year.

Source: Sun

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