The first cohort of Caribbean nurses undergoing specialist training to care for kids with cancer and blood disorders have all successfully completed the first semester.

Thirteen nurses from Barbados, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, enrolled in a specialised one-year Nursing Training Programme at the University of the West Indies School of Nursing (UWISoN)in El Dorado, Trinidad and Tobago last September.

The training is part of a partnership with SickKids-Caribbean Initiative and is being funded by the FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation, the charitable arm of regional bank, CIBC FirstCaribbean. The nurses successfully completed their first semester in the Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Nursing Program.

The 13-week semester consisted of online learning, in-class learning at UWISoN and clinical practicum at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC).

They focused on building foundational knowledge and skills in general paediatric nursing and specialty knowledge and skills in paediatric oncology nursing care. The students started Semester 2 on December 5, 2016 with five weeks of online learning. In-class learning began on February 6, 2017, and will be complemented bysix weeks of clinical practicum both at EWMSC and at their home institution, culminating with a final twelve-week internship component at their home institutions.

The second cohort of students will begin the program in May 2017 and will also include nurses from St. Lucia.

Nurse Educator, Christina Emanuele, from the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health (right) engaging some of the regional nurses during one of the practical sessions.

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s partnership with SickKids Foundation extends from the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Barbados in 2013 when the bank pledged to provide US$1,000,000 over a seven-year period to train medical professionals specialising in the care of paediatric patients affected by cancer or blood disorders such as sickle cell disease. The partnership is being undertaken in collaboration with the University of the West Indies.

SickKids Foundation is a charity registered in the Caribbean, to, among other things, fund training for Caribbean medical professionals as part of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI) through the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.

Director of Corporate Communications at the bank and Trustee of the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation Ltd, Debra King, said;CIBC FirstCaribbean is delighted at the progress of the participants in the training programme. We have every confidence that they will all successfully complete this vital training which will greatly increase their capacity to care for some of the region’s most vulnerable children”.

The overall objective of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is to enhance the care of children in the region who are affected by cancer and blood disorders, and ultimately increase the survival rates. The five-year plan that was developed by SickKids in association with their Caribbean partners addresses the region’s gaps in capacity to advance diagnosis and the treatment of paediatric cancer and blood disorders.

It also aims to create awareness throughout the region of childhood cancers and blood disorders.

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