Health Minister Challenges EBBNM Graduates

Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, has urged certified midwives and other health practitioners across the country to take keen interest in the welfare of patients particularly those in labor.

Dr. Gwenigale’s call was contained in his speech delivered at the graduation ceremony of 23 midwives over the weekend from the Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwives (EBSNM) in Zorzor, Lofa County.

“There has been a special emphasis on future nurses and midwives developing a healthy bedside manner to treat patients with empathy and compassion in addition to providing care of the highest quality,” Dr. Gwenigale told the graduates.

In a rather hysterical mood, the long time medical doctor then recounted his fond memories of the EBSNM, which he said the MOH/SW is “very proud of her quest to provide qualified and trained health practitioners.”

He also expressed gratitude to the entire health sector for adopting pre-service standards, which are used to accredit existing schools and as a requirement for opening new schools.

According to the Minister, transforming pre-service education has now become a key component of his administration and that pre-service education has a competency-based curriculum, focused on ensuring that students are skilled both in the classrooms and in the clinics.

During the graduation exercise, Zorzor City was a scene of excitement and delight when relatives of the graduates expressed their emotion through dances and singing of songs that praised the Administration of the institution for training the graduates over the years to become certified midwives.

Four males made the list of the 23 graduates.

The EBSNM, formally called Curran School of Midwifery and Practical Nursing, founded since 1964, is a Para-medical training institution.

The school is accredited by the Liberian Board of Nursing and Midwifery (LBNM) every two year.  It is named after the late American Lutheran Missionary, Esther Bacon.

The EBSNM believes that nursing and midwifery are practical disciplines that are both an art and science in which theories and knowledge from nursing, midwifery, and other disciplines are used to assist clients towards maximum health and wellness.

In her brief overview, the Director of the school, Harriette N.S. Dolo said the mission of the EBSNM is to promote the healing Ministry of Jesus Christ by educating people to become not only clinicians, but also teachers.

The institution in its pre-war education program offered diploma in Licensed Practical Nursing, Certified Midwifery and Laboratory Technology.

She recalled that as a result of the years of the civil crisis, the school shut down its doors, but reopened following the intervention of partners and an initial funding from the MOH/SW.

Before the civil conflict in Liberia, EBSNM was a major institution that trained midwives and nurses.

In recent years, USAID through the Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) project has partnered with EBSNM in the post-war era to yield better professional results.

Through the partnership, RBHS has strengthened and enhanced teaching skills and the teaching environment at EBSNM.

Such interventions included the renovation of classrooms and clinical sites, as well as the provision of requisite instructional equipment, the EBSNM director said.

The midwifery program at the school has revised its curriculum, extending its period of study from two to three years.

Instructors at the health institution said that such a step enables midwives meet the International Confederation of Midwives’ global standards and core competencies.

“The new midwifery curriculum has also provided a much-needed career ladder for midwives who are the primary providers of maternity care in Liberia. This also promotes both professional advancement and career retention among others.

According to Ms. Dolo, the school was revitalized in September 2008 in an effort to build the human resource capacities of midwives and other cadre of health workers to reduce maternal and neo-natal mortality.

Since the revitalization, she said the school has implemented a new and revised registered midwives curriculum and started the registered nursing program-a new program in the history of the school.

At present, she disclosed that the school has 157 students; 37 of whom are registered nurses, while 119 are registered midwives.

Lofa County Electoral District #4 Representative, Moses Y. Kollie and RBHS Program Director, Marion Subah were among the dignitaries including foreign guests who attended the ceremony and presented diplomas and other awards to the graduates.

One of the graduates, Ms Celia Y. Cyrus, took the first place ‘academic award’ while Ms. Saybah T. Konnie, who took the third place ‘academic award also walked away with the Most Notable Student and the Best Clinical/Esther Bacon Awards among others.

The latest graduation ceremony of the EBSNM on May 4, 2013 is its 4th post-war, and the 2nd registered midwifery (RM) commencement exercises. It was observed on the school’s motto: “Stand for Excellence.”