Bsc in Nursing : What next after your Nursing Degree in Kenya
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worthy. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Linda. Linda is a 23-year-old daughter to a bosom buddy and colleague. She is a girl who I have walked the academic journey with. Someone who I have given my input on such things as which school to join, which course to pursue and it has been well. She is someone who I have mentored . Linda called as she had just graduated from nursing school with a Bsc in Nursing degree.Our conversation took approximately 25 minutes. My little girl needed guidance on what to do after getting her nursing practicing license. This call made me think of many others in Linda`s shoes who had no one to look up to for guidance upon completion of a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I remember walking this path a couple of years back. Sadly for me, I was not privileged to have a mentor like Linda has in me. Remembering that anguish of not knowing what next has motivated me to pen this article. Hopefully be the end, you will know where to head next in your nursing career.
Bsc Nursing program training
In Kenya, the Bachelor’s degree in Nursing training was first offered by Baraton University in late 80s. At the moment there are 24 nursing schools in Kenya in both public and private universities. The course lasts 4 and half years. Nursing school fees differ from one school to the other but are generally lower than the fees paid for dentistry and medicine. Kindly check different university websites for updated fees structures of their nursing degree programs.
My experience pursuing Bsc in Nursing in Kenya
I find it necessary to share my experience studying for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This is because the uncertainty surrounding Bsc in Nursing training in Kenya is the genesis of the trepidation graduates face upon completion.
By sharing my experience, I hope that recent degree nurses graduates can learn how compartmentalize experiences. And not to let the negative experiences during training lead to dejection whilst navigating the muddied waters of making a career out of your hard-earned degree.
First year of bachelor’s degree in nursing
In most Kenyan universities, first year students studying Bachelor of science Medicine and surgery, Bachelor of science Pharmacy, Bachelor of science dentistry, Bachelor of science Environmental health and Bsc Nursing are all expected to take common units like Human Anatomy & Physiology Biochemistry and Microbiology.
Going back, I realize that dad was right I thought. University is a wonderful period but the requisite temperament is needed to emerge successful. Nursing school was initially lots of fun but that was before the examinations started coming thick and first.
Our first year class was short of a political rally. Lectures were given with the aid of a microphone and an overhead projector on a big screen like the one you watch in a movie theater. It was very difficult to know your classmates. We were approximately 800-1000 or thereabouts.
Fast forward, to second year. Each department isolated their students. I felt awkward. I was excited and jealous at the same time.
Excited at getting close to my dream of impacting lives. One year down. Three and a half more to go.
Jealous of the environmental health students who didn’t have to sluice soiled linen, make beds, take vital signs undertake risky nursing procedures like dressing septic wounds and conducting deliveries with such high grades. To say the truth, bedside nursing was not just my thing.
Besides, I missed my friends. I don’t remember where my other colleagues studying Medicine, Pharmacy, dentistry and Environmental health went save for occasional meet ups in our rotations in the wards.
As many attest, training for a degree in nursing is no walk in the park. I remember making a reverse call home one evening. It was one of those lucky evenings I found old man in the house. He returned my call. We got talking. I mentioned challenges I was facing in nursing school.
Defeated, I wanted nothing to do with nursing. I told him my intention to drop out of nursing school and try education or something else like Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He asked me to go home over the weekend for a heart to heart conversation.
I almost quit nursing school
After dinner, we got to what had brought me home. Dad wore this face of a clenched fist. His pose was that of a defeated man. He sat on his favorite chair leaning forward with drooped shoulders like a sick bird. He was cheerless. Gloomy. Dejected. Troubled. Heartbroken. He asked me to state my case after a word of prayer from mum.
To cut the long story short, dad did not give an option to change courses. Dropping out of Nursing School was no option either.
He didn’t say much. He reminded me the humble background I had come from. And that studying a Bsc in Nursing was a privilege. It was upon me to jump at it or fritter away. Since I was the first-born in a family of 12, as is the case in many other homes, dad expected me help pay my siblings fees after graduating with my degree in nursing. I went back to school determined to take Bsc Nursing head on. I promised myself to make my parents proud.
First steps to making a career out of nursing once done with Bsc in Nursing
After graduation, all Bsc Nursing majors and other nurses trained outside the country are expected to pass the Kenya Nursing Council Licensing Exams. They will then proceed to undertake one year internship in approved hospitals.
Generally the Bsc Nursing internship program is intense and rigorous. Internship can be paid or non paid depending on the hospital. The government has been grappling with the idea of paying Bsc Nursing interns. This has not yet been concluded. After internship, these degree nurses will now be ready to be registered by the Nursing Council of Kenya.
At this point I traveled home as is tradition to thank God for everything good. This time my reason for meeting mum and dad was to show them my achievement.
The meeting was awesome. Dad was beaming with pride and joy. He was pleased in me. There was no electricity in my village. We didn’t even have paraffin to light our house that night. The joy in our hearts was sufficient. We shared a meal and evening prayer and slept.
The morning after dad charged me. He told me to get out with my “spear” the nursing degree and go hunting for jobs. I have never looked back
Career in Nursing: Kenyan Jobs in Nursing after Completing your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
Young nurses should not to despair with the frequent nurses strikes in Kenya. Couple of years down the line and I am still proud to have taken old man`s advise. Degree nursing has thousands of career opportunities. Given the shortage of nurses in Kenya, that sees even yet to graduate students offered nursing jobs, many make the mistake of not having the basics taken care of. Just like other jobs, ensure you have your resume and other credentials ready.
- One can work with the central government in the two national hospitals ie MTRH or KNH. Degree nurses can also work with the national government as sectional heads or advisors to health management teams. A Bsc in Nursing prepares one for leadership in health. Your diligence and networking skills determine the ceiling for you.
- Nursing degree holders can also work with the county governments as a staff nurses, Directors of Nursing Services, Chief Officers, Directors of Health and County Executive Committee Member of Health. Even governors themselves.
- Bsc Nursing degree holders are hot cakes when it comes to them being employed by local and international NGOs; and the United Nations. Degree nurses work in different capacities ranging from program officers, program coordinators, program managers, deputy chief of party, advisors, chief of party etc. Opportunities are abound.
- Jobs in Nursing are also available in private and government insurance companies as underwriters and health managers for holders of Bachelors degree in Nursing. Bsc Nursing majors can also work with NHIF in all areas ranging from quality assurance, compliance, enrollment, claims, etc
- Nurses can also join the military and other uniformed forces as specialists. Military nurses undergo a very rigorous military training when joining. They quickly move up the ranks soon after inauguration.
- Bsc Nurses can also work in special settings like prisons, airports and port services to take care of immigration health.
- Working with pharmaceutical companies as medical representatives. This is usually a very attractive offer given the fact that most companies give out cars to their sales team.
- Nursing teaching positions are available all over in the republic. The 24 universities offering nursing degree programs have not satisfied their staffing needs for masters degrees in nursing holders as well as PhD in nursing degrees.
- Degree nurses can also work with research organizations like KEMRI, CDC and Walter Reed as principal investigators, research assistants and research administrators etc
- A Bsc in Nursing opens the doors for working with private healthcare providers like The Aga Khan University, The Nairobi Hospital, MP Shah, The Karen Hospital etc. This will be such a nice opportunity for those who enjoy bedside nursing.
- For the entrepreneurs among us, degree nurses can also get licensed by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to operate nursing homes and private clinics
- There are many scholarships for degree nurses wishing to pursue masters and PhD degrees locally, in Europe, Australia and America.
- Nurses can also pursue the path to work and live in Europe, America, Australia etc
Masters degree in Nursing
In there somewhere, I found my perfect fit in public health. I have worked in a district hospital, national referral hospital and majorly,in a local non-governmental organization. I know of many Bsc in Nursing degree holders working in similar organizations, local and international, government and private, at positions similar to and more senior to mine.
Nursing pays. One needs to think through where they want to be and set out to achieve it. I will be sharing my masters degree experience later, including what I have gathered from peers who pursued masters degree in nursing.