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School for the learned minds

Sangam College Of Nursing And Health Care Education Academic Board Chairman Amraiya Naidu
Saturday, September 30, 2017

On an important event such as this, the members of the Sangam family pay homage to the founding father, Sadhu Kuppuswami, and some like-minded Girmit pioneers who laid the foundation for the establishment of the organisation in 1926, 91 years ago. Had it not been for their visionary zeal, we would not have gathered here today under the Sangam banner to witness the achievement of the students at our institution. It is important that we remember the contribution our forefathers had made for the benefit of the future generations. The aim was to educate the children as well to preserve the language and culture.

In keeping with the objective, Sangam has built and operates several early childhood centres, 21 primary and five secondary schools, some of which are among the largest in the country. In 2005, the Sangam College of Nursing was established at Labasa. This is our 12th year of operation. During the period, the college graduated 445 nurses with diploma qualification, 27 enrolled nurses, 47 midwives and eight nurse practitioners with postgraduate diploma. The last batch of 12 midwifery students completed their studies in April and they are here to graduate. The College is happy that their qualification got recognition for their specialised nature of training in the recent job evaluation exercise that is being implemented.

It was a milestone achievement in the history of nursing education in Fiji for the college to develop the degree course in 2012 and implemented in 2013. The first cohort of 67 students graduated with the bachelor of nursing science degree in 2015. 91 students were awarded the degree last year. All our graduates from 2005 are serving with the Ministry of Health.

Having taught the diploma course from 2005 and the new degree program from 2013, the faculty members took the initiative to write a curriculum to abridge the knowledge content between the diploma and the degree courses. A wide-ranging consultation of the curriculum content was undertaken with the industry and the various stakeholders before making the submission to the Fiji Nursing Council, which was approved. It was then sent to the Fiji Higher Education Commission for scrutiny and endorsement, and that too was granted to us.

After complying with all the requirements of the Nursing Decree 41 of 2011 wherein the authority is vested in the Nursing Council to approve, monitor and evaluate every training course provided to nurses at the tertiary institutions, the then Minister for Health, Jone Usamate, was invited to officially inaugurate the delivery of the bridging course on June 13, 2016. Eighty students had enrolled from the Labasa Hospital and the neighbouring health facilities to upgrade their qualification.

The College has a total roll of 728 students comprising 324 undergraduate full time students on campus in Labasa, the first cohort of 21 students undertaking individual support training program in collaboration with the Australia-Pacific Technical College and 404 nurses pursuing bridging course at five centres, namely; Labasa, Lautoka, Suva, Ba and since last week, at Taveuni.

We commend you all for your initiative and sacrifice investing your own resources for upgrading the knowledge aimed at enabling you to raise the quality of nursing in the country. Granted, it may not have been easy for many senior nurses who had not done any serious studies in all those years since entering the service. Your persistence to succeed has finally come to fruition despite having to juggle your time between full time employment, household chores to attend to and the family commitments.

It simply goes to show that there is no obstacle big enough to prevent us from surmounting it with the will to strive combined with the enormous potential inherent in us. You have, in the process, proved beyond doubt your ability to excel with the single-minded devotion to attain what you had set out to do.

It is worthy of note what Florence Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing profession had said, "How very little can be done in fear". I am sure you all must have felt handicapped from time to time in discharging your duties diligently and with confidence. To overcome that fear you needed knowledge, which you have acquired through the bridging course. The overwhelming positive feedback from you all about the accrued benefit it has made in your professional development, the college is happy that the objective of the program has been fulfilled.

A few extracts from the evaluation forms, for example, showed the impact the course had on the participants;

* It has boosted my morale and self-esteem for performing my duties confidently and competently;

* Can assume greater responsibility without hesitation and be able to make sensible decisions;

* Increased critical thinking skills for better and safer patient care; and

* The program has inspired us to continue learning to become better practitioners.

You are now in a position to go about your duties with the clinical understanding of your actions. The knowledge gained has sharpened your skills to perform your duties more efficiently and effectively. "The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm", said Nightingale. It is our fervent hope, therefore, that you will remember to perform your duty with love, tender care and empathy.

Your kind words and compassion will complement the medication dispensed for the speedy recovery of patients and their wellness.

The College is proud that you now belong to the Sangam family. We ask that you wear with pride the badge that you have received today and be recognised as the college flag bearer for the stakeholders to judge us by your exemplary qualities and actions. We are confident that you will make a difference.

On behalf of the management, the college faculty, your family, colleagues at the work place and friends, I wish to congratulate you all for your determined effort to reach the goal and we all have come together to witness the crowning of your success.

Our best wishes will always be with you in your career. May god bless you all. Thank you!

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