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Vincentian nurse makes research presentation to international conference

Vincentian nurse makes research presentation to international conference

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A lecturer at the St Vincent Community College, Division of Nursing Education, who recently presented her thesis in Chicago at an international research conference for nursing and health care is doing her part in the fight against breast cancer.

Oneikah Sergeant-Richards said while the incidence of breast cancer is high in St Vincent and the Grenadines,women can do their part in treating and preventing the disease.{{more}}

On November 18, 2014, Richards presented her study entitled: “Primary Care Nurses — knowledge,self efficacy and breast cancer screening practices.”

The three-day conference was attended by nurses from all parts of the world, with Richards being the lone representative from the Caribbean to present her study.

Her presentation was published in the Journal of Nursing and Care Volume 3 issue 7 and the complete manuscript of her thesis was published by the Journal of Research in Nursing and Midwifery (JRNM), Volume 3, No.7 in October.

“The reception I received was really good. They asked me a lot of questions and were interested to know about the statistics in St Vincent, in terms of breast cancer and programmes we have in place,” Richards told SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week.

Richards explained that upon completion of her masters in nursing administration with distinction from the University of the West Indies in August 2014, her thesis was selected by the school and presented the OMICS International Group.

The OMICS Group International is an amalgamation of Open Access publications and worldwide international science conferences and events. The Group also organizes 300 International conferences annually across the globe, where knowledge transfer takes place through debates, round table discussions, poster presentations, workshops, symposia and exhibitions.

As part of her thesis, Richards said she had to complete a research study, which was completed here in St Vincent.

According to Richards, 62 registered nurses from around the country participated in the study. From responses to her questionnaire, Richards said she discovered that there are no standardized practices SVG regarding breast cancer treatment.

“The practices, in terms of screening are inconsistent and widely varied among the nurses. One of the questions I asked on the questionnaire was if there was a policy manual or guide to tell you how often to screen and I found out there’s no such manual currently. As a result of that, nurses have differences in how they screen and some of the practices are not consistent with international standards,” she said.

Richards added that following her thesis completion, she was scheduled to meet with nurses here to present her recommendations to tackle the problem, but circumstances did not allow it.

“It is interesting to note, that according to statistics retrieved from the Health Information Unit, 110 new cases of breast cancer were identified in SVG between 2007- 2011. As I mentioned the World Health Organization (2014) and Pan American Health Organization (2014) maintain that early detection is the most fundamental measure in the fight against breast cancer,” she stated.

According to Richards, primary health care nurses are ideally positioned as gate keepers in our health care system and can help in screening behaviors as well as educate clients on screening practices.

“The purpose of the study was to determine the knowledge, self efficacy and breast cancer screening practices of primary health care nurses in SVG. The implications of the findings of the study are that continuous education and training are required to increase nurses’ level of awareness of breast cancer.

Organizational support and policies are essential in ensuring standardization and consistency of screening practices,” Richards went on to say.

However, her most recent achievement is just the tip of the iceberg for the young professional. She has indicated her interest in commencing a follow-up study with breast cancer, focused on more public awareness.

“Breast cancer in St Vincent is really high. I think that people need to know they can access screening. They can do the self test or let their doctor assist. So I really want to do something with the public and get the message out there,” she said.

Richards has been a nurse since she was 18, having entered the school of nursing in 2000, to pursue the registered nursing programme, which she successfully completed in 2003.

After her appointment in 2004, she served as a district nurse starting in Spring Village before moving on to other communities.

In 2005, she pursued the mid-wifery programme, before again returning to her task as a district nurse.

Richards left the field to pursue studies in nursing education at the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus in Trinidad, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing Education.

She was also the valedictorian of her graduating class in 2010.(KW)

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