One hundred final-year nursing students from Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Jamaica burst into rapturous applause at the Kencot Seventh-day Adventist Church on January 17 as they received gifts of personal laptops and pulse oximeters.
The 110 donated laptops and oximeters were gifts from AdventHealth in collaboration with Andrews Memorial Hospital (AMH) and the GSI Foundation during a handover ceremony held on January 17.
The GSI Foundation is the charity arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica and the vehicle for getting goods into the country.
“Computers are integral in developing education,” said Owen Gregory, a nurse who serves as the Senior International Heritage Liaison for AdventHealth and spoke at the ceremony. “This gift from AdventHealth will help to foster your education and to navigate the complex arena of the future. As we prepare our nurses, it is important to equip them with the resources needed to complete that education. Donating these computers is one step in meeting that need and committing to their education.”
Tackling the Nursing Crisis
Further addressing the cause, Donmayne Gyles, president and CEO of AMH, said that the extraordinary partnership between AdventHealth — a prominent non-profit, faith-based health-care system in the United States, with 53 hospitals and headquartered near Orlando, Florida — and Jamaica’s Adventist Church–run AMH and NCU aims to revolutionize the nursing profession and address the pressing need for nursing development and retention in Jamaica.
“This groundbreaking endeavor involves a tripartite collaboration between the three institutions, creating a comprehensive pipeline for nursing education, development, and employment,” Gyles said.
Gyles highlighted the challenges facing the nursing profession in Jamaica, which are immense, and said that health-care institutions and academic organizations must join forces to overcome them.
“Together, we are forging a path for excellence and ensuring that our nursing workforce is prepared to tackle the challenges of the future,” he said. Hence, “AdventHealth, AMH, and NCU are pooling their resources, expertise, and influence to cultivate a pipeline that will lay the foundation for advancing nursing education, ensuring high-quality development, and ultimately retaining skilled nurses within the health-care workforce.”
Happy for such an alliance, Everett Brown, board chair of AMH, NCU, and GSI, thanked AdventHealth heartily for forging this relationship and for such a meaningful gift.
“Thank you, AdventHealth, for your invaluable partnership with Andrews Memorial Hospital over these many years,” Brown said. “The future of health care in Jamaica and the world is in this room. I hope that the investment made by AdventHealth and, by extension, AMH will go a long way in developing the requisite nurses to add value to life, Jamaica, and the world. We are eternally grateful for your gifts. Take back [home] our profound thanks for this important gesture.”
On accepting the gifts, NCU president Lincoln Edwards expressed his profound gratitude on behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of NCU to AdventHealth, AMH, and the GSI Foundation. He also expounded on the importance of values-based nursing.
“Central to the business model of AdventHealth and Andrews Memorial Hospital are nurses,” Edwards said. “That means you. You are central to their business because they are in the business of patient care, and patient care requires nurses.
“But AdventHealth and Andrews Memorial Hospital don’t require just any kind of nurses,” he added. “They want nurses who receive values-based education that allows them to care passionately for those who need such services. NCU is in the business of training such nurses.”
Edwards further encouraged the nursing students to accept the offer of working with AMH and AdventHealth. “All of you nurses, when you complete your studies this year, please consider serious employment at Andrews Memorial Hospital and AdventHealth. You will have the opportunity to spend two years at AMH if you decide to move on to AdventHealth or continue at Andrews. But I know that both institutions value you very much.”
Nursing students reacted with gleeful excitement and thunderous applause to Edwards’ announcement that the laptops and pulse oximeter were theirs to keep.
“We heard something was coming from last year before our final exams, but I wasn’t sure what it was,” Daniella Montfort, a nursing student from Guyana, said. “The culmination of this build-up is so exciting. I am excited just being here to receive my laptop,” she said. “After the financial challenges that COVID-19 brought of being online, this gift is so much more meaningful. Some students do assignments from their phones; therefore, this is a blessing. Thank you so much to all partners involved.”
Shavay Shearer expressed her gratitude in her vote of thanks. “I am thrilled and grateful for this initiative, and I speak on behalf of all the nursing students thanking you for the gifts, especially for the opportunity to work with these two health institutions,” she said.
“The ceremony today was great!” Antonio Bower, one of six male final-year nursing students who received a gift, said. “I am happy for the laptops, which will help with our assignments, develop our nursing skills, and ensure that we become more professional nurses in the future. I look forward to collaborating with either health institutions in the future.”
Fifty Years of Graduating Nurses
NCU, previously known as West Indies College, began its nursing program in 1970 in collaboration with Loma Linda University and AMH.
“This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary since the graduation of NCU’s first cohort of nursing students, and we are growing strong,” Januell Miller, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at NCU, said.
With 120 students entering the department annually, mostly for the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, Vincent Wright, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Allied Health, and Nursing at NCU, said that the school’s nursing graduates are in demand worldwide.
“We graduate approximately 100 to 115 students each year. We know that our students are trained to offer excellent patient care and well-cultured mannerisms,” Wright said. “The nursing program also instills accountability for professional growth through the provision of appropriate nursing skillset and lifelong learning. That’s our training at NCU.”
Final-year student Akhalia Brown concurred that her positive experience in NCU’s nursing department is preparing her well.
“The nursing program prepares me for the real world. The lecturers teach us how to make sound clinical judgments, exposing us to clinical experiences, balancing advocating for patient care and empathy in a professional manner.”
The NCU campus is situated in Mandeville, Jamaica. The university achieved senior college status in the late 1950s when it began to offer a bachelor’s degree in theology and was known as West Indies College. Since then, baccalaureate programs in some twenty other disciplines have been added. The Jamaican government granted university status in 1999, and the school became Northern Caribbean University. It offers more than seventy-degree programs, including graduate programs in the sciences, business, and education.