Political History and Development of Nursing Education: Comparison of Kenya and Ireland
The development of nursing in Kenya was greatly influenced by the country’s political history (Mule 1986, p. 83). Missionaries were keen to provide curative medicine to Kenyans and despite their efforts, they found it hard to provide treatment and care to every Kenyan. Therefore, there was a need to train Kenyans to work as nurses. Initially, the training of nurses involved curative care only (Mule, 1986, p. 84). As the demand for nursing services and medical care increased, the government stepped in and in 1929, health programmes were started whereby nurses were trained as assistant nurses’ grade one and dressers grade two.
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In Ireland, nursing education followed the Nightingale apprenticeship model. (O’Dwyer, 2007, p. 136). In 1973, Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) and this also influenced nursing education (O’Dwyer, 2007, p. 138). For instance, the 1989 directive that nurses undergo 4,600 hours of practical and theoretical instructions also affected the training and education of nurses in Ireland.
Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education: Comparison of Kenya and Ireland
One of the government agencies in Kenya that influenced the training of nurses is the Ministry of Health. Through this ministry, the government started the Kenya Registered Nursing Course in 1952. In 1957, a medical assistant course was also started (Mule, 1983, p. 85). The evolvement of the nursing community in Kenya played a crucial role in trying to meet the needs of Kenyans.
In Ireland, the Ministry of Health has been instrumental in nursing development. For example, in 1997, the Minister of Health created the Commission on Nursing, a body that charted the way forward for the future of Ireland’s nursing education (Chavasse, 2000).
Current System of Nursing Education: Comparison of Kenya and Ireland
In Kenya, the nursing course takes four years to complete and upon graduation, they can play the role of a midwife, general nurse, or a community health nurse. In addition, the graduate is also expected to have a lot of experience and knowledge in a psychiatric setting (Mule, 1986, p. 87). In 1968, a nursing course was started at the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of Medicine in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (Mule, 1986, p. 87). The two-year program puts the graduate on the same level with a Bachelor of Science graduate from most of the leading institutions in the U.S.
In Ireland, nursing unions gave way to nursing reforms through protests and strikes. Starting from 2002, various colleges and universities in Ireland started offering nursing degrees (O’Dwyer, 2007, p. 138). Today, the nursing degree program in Ireland takes four years to complete. It involves clinical and educational practices. During the first 3 years, nursing students are exposed to both clinical and theory practice. In their final year, the students are sent to a health service facility where they get to learn how to combine skills and knowledge of nursing.
There is no mention of post-graduate education for nurses in Kenya in the article. On the other hand, Ireland offers post-graduate education in nursing, although the author of the article has not identified specific post-graduate schools of nursing.
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I was surprised to learn that nursing education in Kenya took off earlier in comparison with nursing education in Ireland. One would have expected that Ireland would be among the pioneers in embracing nursing education. I was also surprised to learn that in Kenya, Traditional Birth Attendants and Traditional Health Providers are still regarded highly in society, especially in rural areas. I would also not have expected nursing reforms to take so long to be initiated in Ireland until about the late 1990s.
Chavasse, J. (2000). Nursing education, in J. Robins (Ed.), Nursing and midwifery in Ireland in the twentieth century: Fifty years of An Bord Altranais, 1950-2000. Dublin, lreland: An Bord Altranais.
Mule, G. (1986). Nursing education in Kenya: trends and innovations. Int. Nurs. Rev., 33(3), 83-88.
O’Dwyer, P. (2007). Looking back…moving forward: The educational preparation of nurses in Ireland. Nursing Education Perspectives, 28(3), 136-139.