Matrons are responsible for all the nurses and domestic staff, overseeing all patient care, and the efficient running of the hospital. Matrons are almost invariably female. Matrons are often seen as fearsome administrators. This was confirmed by an actual scenerio where a past Chief Medical Director had to go on his KNEES to beg a Matron at the lagos university teaching hospital. They are the Landlords of the ward and guard their turf with an extreme sense of possessiveness.
I hope this articles critically appraises how most Matrons, especially in private hospitals have become untouchable and a burden to the nursing profession in Nigeria.
In most private hospital, there are two cadres of Nurses; registered nurses and auxilliary nurses. But guess what, the Matrons in their wisdom decree that both cadres MUST wear the same nursing uniform!!, making it extremely hard to differntiate a professional nurse from a quack. sadly this happens everywhere in nigeria. In an effort to fool the general public, patients life are put at risk as they are being attended to by unqualified and untrained fake auxilliary nurses masquarading and dressed as registered nurses. At times more auxilliary nurses are employed at the expense of unemployed registered nurses, at a ratio of 4 auxilliary nurses to 1 registered nurse. All these happen under the watchfull eyes of the Almighty Matrons.
Working in a hospital leaves you at the mercy of your Matron who literally draws up your life in the form of a roster. The rosterr has transformed from being an instrument of planning shift duties to a form of punishment. For instance a matron who is offended with a Nurse can choose to place him/her on permanent night shift. There has been instances where Nurses who come late to work are punished by the matron by "SEIZING" their "off days'. Most times when a Matron knows you specifically requested for a certain day to be off, she would make sure that you dont have your way. Majority of times when nurses try to make ends meet by runing a post basic program and working in private practise at the same time, trust the Matron to place him on permanent mornings on the week of his nursing council exams. It is a known fact that doctors cover for their colleagues who may need to attend to other pressing needs, but request to have someone cover for your as a nurse, you would be suprisesd by how a 'big deal' the matron turns it into.
Physical Harrasment and Verbal Abuse:
On many occassions, Matrons have engaged in behaviours and activites that downgrade nurses and the integrity of the profession. there have been numerous reports of Matrons SLAPPING staff nurses for one excusable reason or the other. Ridiculing Professional Colleagues, especially in the presence of Clients/Patients or other members of the health team. Shouting at Nurses to the hearing of Doctors, patients and patient relatives have become the norm in private practise and in most government hospitals. Many nurses have also suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of these almighty matrons.
The nursing and midwifery council in its wisdom had created the mandatory continuing professional development program (MCPDP) for nurses to acquaint them on current best practises. Most matrons in private practise have no intention of leaving their current employment and hope to retire at their current place of work, hence no obvious need to attend the MCPDP and thus no need for license renewals. In their infallable ego, they forget that the ICN code of ethics for nurses state that nurses must attend workshops, conferences, seminars and courses that are recognized by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, relevant to the profession at least once a year. These are the onces reffered to as Gallipot nurses, to them "as it was in the beginning is now and ever shal be world without end, Amen".
According to the International Code of Ethics, Nurses must Provide care, using current evidence based principles and practice. To this crop of nurses, the status quo remains. They would fight and resist change with the last drop of their blood, they remain outdated and choose not to update themselves in the face of glarring changes to the profession and practise. i once overheard a matron say that if the hospital buys digital blood pressure machines and digital thermometers, that the nurses would become lazy. I confronted her and requested to know if she knew of the latest publication from the world health organization calling for the phasing out of mercury fever thermometers and blood pressure devices containing mercury by 2020 and the deployment of accurate, affordable, and safer non-mercury alternatives. I promptly advised her to subscribe to updates on www.nursingworldnigeria.com to start getting updates on latest research findings in the health industry. unfortunately, she doesnt know how to browse the internet!
Nurses Salary in Private Practise:
I remember while at an interview for employment as an emergency nurse. I categorically stated to the recruitment team that i would not accept a salary below N150,000 since i had three HND qualifications (RN,RM, RAEN) and one Degree (BNSC). I was stunned to my roots when the Matron who was part of the panel insisted that if i was paid the amount i requested , if would be tantamount to increasing other nurses salary too. I never got the job because the Matron who should have seen the extra qualification as a benchmark and yardstick to levrage increment in nurses salary failed to take the cue. I felt betrayed and in shock.
Conflict of Interest:
The nurse, in particular the Matron owes it to the public to access the adequacy of resources and make known to appropriate persons and authorities, any circumstances which could place clients/patients in jeopardy or which militate against safe standards of practice. But these matrons collaborate with the Doctors and hospital management to present fake documentations during the audit. They go ahead to present Curricullum vitea of applicants they interviewed but never employed as current members of staff, hence faking nursing staffing levels whereas in reality they are severly short staffed, with the poor nursing staffs being overworked and being underpaid. These nurses place the doctors and organziations interest above the profession and the patient.
Since then i have come to understand that after long years working in one establishment, no forward or backward movements, the lines become blurred for the matron and she soon begins to see herself on the other side of the divide, Helping the doctors and the hospital management team to keep nurses down, especially in terms of salaries and salary increments; cutting cost at the expense of fellow colleagues.
The Matron sees it as a personal task and target to always deduct the nurses salary as a form of punishment and also makes sure nurses agitating for salary increments are laid off for flimsy reasons. She sees thru Nurses during interviews and would make sure to fail those who threaten her authority and/ or who look aggressive.
(NOTE: This article is written with all due respect to all MATRONS who have given their best and years in the service of humanity and to the profession)
Right now, i have run out of steam on this issue. please leave your comments and thoughts below and look for ward to my next article on BSC Nursing (Degree) and Private Nursing Practise in Nigeria by Jude Chiedu.
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