Since the inception of the Nursing Science department in the College of Medicine, University of Lagos in 2010, Today – Thursday, 22nd of March, 2018 – history is made as they induct their first set of Nurses (3 academic sets – classes 2015, 2016, 2017) into the medical world. In view of this, our correspondents – Mbama Chisom, Olatunji Temitayo, Ariyo Ayodele, Udeh Harrison – had an exclusive interview with the Nursing Science Head of Department on Wednesday, 21st of March, 2018.
Can we meet you Ma’am?
I am Dr Florence Folami, coordinator of Nursing Science Department, College of Meicine, UNILAG.
Your qualifications and educational background?
I was a Registered Nurse (RN) and Registered Midwife (RM) in Nigeria before I travelled to the USA, where I got my Bachelors of Nursing Science BNSc, Masters in Nursing Science MNSc , Masters of Public Health MPH and PhD.
What is your specialty now and why?
Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Community health because I saw it as my best option and I was an OB (Obstetrics) Nurse for a long time before I returned to Nigeria.
When did you become the HOD of the department?
I resumed office in 2016, after I took over from Dr M.D. Ekiran.
How has the department evolved since you resumed office?
We have three sets graduating among other beautiful achievements. We got the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria NMCN accreditation and NUC.
Can you compare the health sector abroad to what we have here in Nigeria, since you were privileged to experience both?
Definitely, there are some things done differently in the two places since this is comparing a developing country to a developed one. However, Various things play distinct roles. For example, the impact of culture and religion on the health of Nigerians is greater while these factors don’t or rarely play a significant role in the health of those abroad. They have other advantages such as technology, skilled personnel, environment and so on, we are growing here and we can get to the peak.
Considering the fact that this is a new department in the college, what are the challenges faced so far and how have you been able to work around them?
Well, I don’t like referring to the department as a baby but yeah, for a baby to develop, some stages are involved and it is one after the other. We have to crawl before we walk, you know and we are just going through developmental stages; human factor is the number one challenge, getting people to help, especially the lecturers. I think the University is working on getting us more lecturers and I believe that will help. Our own lecturers are also getting their PhDs now – that will contribute tremendously to the development of the department.
Apart from being the HOD of Nursing department, what else do you do?
Hahahaha. So many many things! I mean, different things. I have an NGO – Cross of Christ, I have an orphanage home which keeps me busy and involved, we have a ministry too that I do together with my husband. I’m a member of so many Nursing organizations, one of which is the Lead Nurse Africa, of which I am a board member.
How have you been able to balance your life, family, profession and still remain very effective in multi-tasking?
Great question!!! Definitely, whatever you do, you have to be very passionate about it and you have to be focused. My professional life, my family life are two different things, I try very hard to separate them. I give my best to each aspect of my life as they come, one important thing is to know what you want to do and do not allow anything distract you no matter what.
We understand that Nursng department is about to induct the first set of students after some years, what exactly was the problem and how were you able to solve these problems?
You know, like I said before, “as a baby, you have to crawl and face the challenges…”, that’s exactlyexactly what happened. We had to wait for the department to be accredited by the NMCN and NUC, because without that, we can’t graduate anybody, this took a lot of time. It’s wasn’t the fault of the department, it was the fault of the University because for a department to be accredited, some requirements have to be met and some things need to be on ground which they did before we got accreditation. The students went through difficult times because they spent more than the number of years they were supposed to spend, so it wasn’t easy for them. The department also felt it, as we kept teaching and had no graduates year after year until now, you know – if you’re teaching and nobody graduates, it’s like you’re doing nothing. It was a big challenge for both the lecturers and the students.
For the inductees, what are their qualifications right now and what opportunities do they have in the labour market?
Great opportunities! As a Nurse, you know you have the best, I mean, seriously. They are Registered Nurses and have met requirements for Bachelors programme which is BNSc. Opportunities are great in Nigeria, abroad those opportunities are greater and excellent. As a Nurse, The sky is the starting point.
Advice to the Inductees as a Professional Nurse who has numerous qualifications and years of experience?
They should be focused and not be distracted, not to look at the money alone but also widen their horizon to opportunities, you know the money will come and go. They need to know why they are in the profession, because if it is for money, the more you make money the more you spend it, they need to start working passionately so that the profession will grow beyond what we have now.
What is your take on the notion that Nursing is a profession for only females?
That’s not even true anymore, if you look at statistics – the percentage of men in Nursing is alarming. Looking at history, Nursing started by Florence Nightingale, she started as a lady that was passionate about what is happening around her, she did everything to make sure that situations are taken care of and people receive care. Hence, at that time, people saw the profession as a place for only females but not anymore. Looking at statistics, the percentage of men in Nursing has been growing day after day. In this department, we have males too.
Anything to say to Nursing students???
Hehehe, I love Nursing students – I love them so much. You guys amaze me every little time and every minute, it’s like you’re unpredictable. Just be focused, don’t lose the essence of the profession, you guys are talented than other students. Nursing undergraduate programme is the most tedious, I mean you guys do so much more than others. Looking at the courses you take, you know you’re being overworked but like I said, don’t lose focus and don’t forget to have fun ehn. (giggles)
You’re known among the students as Dr Flo, what brought about this name?
Ohhh that, I will tell you and I’m so glad you asked me this question. I am actually a Lactation Consultant and I help with breastfeeding. I was actively doing that abroad before I came back here, my job was to go into the wards to attend to needs of mothers as regards breastfeeding. One day, one of my clients came and had difficulties breastfeeding, he came trying to help his wife to lactate. He came to the desk and talked to the Nurses about the problem, “I need help, my wife needs to breast feed our baby” , everybody kept telling him, “don’t worry Dr Flo will be in to help you”. To him, he thought it was because I’m a lactation consultant that’s the reason people called me that. He started spreading the “rumour” that it’s because of the “flow” of milk and I’m a lactation consultant, that if “Dr Flow” comes “the flow of milk” comes in – your wife’s milk will come in – so all over, the name went everywhere.
What do you think the government and authority can do in the department of Nursing science that could contribute to its growth and development?
Well, the government have to understand what Nursing is all about, we are begging them to please look at what Nurses do and look at the way to promote the profession. That been said, we need one of you to go into politics and help us speak as regards the profession.