Nurses under the auspices of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Abuja chapter, took to the streets on Monday to voice their discontent with the latest verification certification guidelines issued by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
The protest, which unfolded at the NMCN’s office in Abuja, highlighted the nurses’ frustration and concerns over policies they believe could restrict their professional advancement and access to career opportunities.
The nurses’ grievances stem from a circular released by the NMCN on February 7, 2024, which outlined revised guidelines for the verification of certificates for nurses and midwives.
This move by the council has been met with significant backlash from the nursing community, who view the new regulations as overly restrictive and detrimental to their career mobility.
Participants in the protest called on the NMCN to not only reconsider these new guidelines but to also focus on addressing critical issues affecting the nursing profession, such as welfare, salary scales, staff shortages, and other rights fundamental to their work environment and professional satisfaction.
The controversy over the verification process began after The PUNCH reported the deactivation of the verification portal on the NMCN’s website in December 2023, a situation that had already caused unrest and uncertainty among nursing professionals.
The subsequent revision of the verification guidelines appears to have exacerbated the situation, prompting nurses to demand a more transparent and supportive approach from the regulatory body.
The circular signed by the Registrar of the council, Dr Faruk Abubakar, read in part, “A non-refundable fee per application shall be paid for verification to foreign boards of nursing as specified on the portal. This shall cover the cost of courier services to the applicant’s institution(s) of training, place of work, and foreign board.
“Eligible applicants must have a minimum of two years post qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practicing licence. Any application with a provisional licence shall be rejected outright.
“The council shall request a letter of good standing from the chief executive officer of the applicant’s place(s) of work and the last nursing training institution attended and responses on these shall be addressed directly to the Registrar/CEO, NMCN. Please note that the council shall not accept such letter(s) through the applicant.”
The council also stated that applicants must have active practising licences with a minimum of six months to the expiration date, and processing of verification applications would take a minimum of six months.
It added that the implementation of the guidelines takes effect from March 1, 2024
Meanwhile, on Monday, the nurses and midwives were at the NMCN office singing and carrying placards around the premises .
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, “Address unemployment among nurses, address quakery, address nurses welfare, and “#No to verification rules. Stop frustrating the Nigerian nurses, we are going through a lot already, Protect nurses, protect healthcare, NMCN, we say no to the verification rules, NMCN, don’t reduce nurses” among others.