SHS graduates to help in health care delivery – should we be worried?

Tuesday, August 23, 2022.

Sometimes I think I am a ‘Prophet (of doom)’. Many of the things I predict come to pass. Today, someone shared a headline with me: The government is going to recruit 5,000 SHS graduates to help nurses on CHPS compounds. I smiled and said to myself: “This is how it starts.”


Earlier this year, there was an ‘impasse’ between Certified Registered Anaesthetists (‘nurse anaesthetists’) and Anaesthesiologists (‘doctor anaesthetists’) in Ghana. Some of the ‘nurse anaesthetists’ made comments suggesting that many of the ‘nurse anaesthetists’ are better than the ‘doctor anaesthetists’. I called for caution on such statements and (bringing in the comparison between Emergency Surgical Officers and Surgeons/Obstetrician Gynaecologists in other countries) I mentioned that one day, SHS graduates may go into anaesthesia. Some of them, after some years may also say they are better than ‘nurse anaesthetists’ and then suggest it is not necessary to go to Nursing School (or Medical School) to be the best in anaesthesia.

It seems the process has begun. I have worked with SHS graduates in theatre who have never been to Nursing School or Medical School who can repair hernias, perform circumcision, caesarean sections etc if they are left on their own. We must be careful about job descriptions and supervision/monitoring otherwise we can be walking on very slippery grounds.

Some of my friends call me Cassandra, after the character in Greek mythology who was gifted with the power to foretell the future but also cursed, making her prophecies fall on unbelieving ears.

This is what I wrote on January 9, 2022:


If after some years these Emergency Surgical Officers say they are better than Surgeons and Obstetrician Gynaecologists (and this is confirmed to be true) then it may not be necessary to train Surgeons and Obstetrician Gynaecologists anymore in Ethiopia?

The next ‘experiment’ will be that after SHS, SHS graduates are trained for 2 years in Anaesthesia without going to Nursing Training College.

If after some years of practice, they say they are better than Certified Registered Anaesthetists (and this is confirmed), then it may not be necessary to train Certified Registered Anaesthetists?


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