The Barshell University College (BUC) in Paynesville, is reportedly operating the nursing and midwifery department without accreditation from the Liberian Board for Nursing and Midwifery (LBNM), the Daily Observer has reliably learned.
Documents in the possession of the Daily Observer indicate that BUC’s operation violates the law of Liberia by operating a nursing and midwifery school in the absence of approval and accreditation from the LBNM.
LBNM is an autonomous agency operating through an Act of the legislature, amended in 2016, to regulate the education and practice of nursing and midwifery.
The Daily Observer discovered that the BUC has not met the standard of the board to enable graduates from the institution to take the National State Board Exam, which should qualify them medical practice.
This means graduates from BUC will not be licensed and authorized to practice in Liberia or anywhere around the world, a highly placed source from the health sector told the Daily Observer.
The National State Board Exam is a standardized test for nurses to determine whether or not a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice.
Passing the State Board Exam also qualifies nursing and midwifery graduates to obtain license in various fields including Registered Nurse (RN), Registered Nurse and Midwife (RNM), Registered Nurse Anesthetic (RNA), Registered Ophthalmic Nurse (RON), Professional Nurse and Professional Midwife, which authorizes them to practice anywhere in the world, including Liberia.
According to a public service announcement from the LBNM, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, there are 21 schools across the country that have been assessed and have met the LBNM standard to open and operate nursing and midwifery schools.
“This is to inform the general public that the below-listed nursing and midwifery schools have been assessed and met the LBNM’s standard to open and operate. Only graduates from these schools are given the National State Board Exam at the end of their study to qualify as RNs, RMs, RNM, CM, and LPN and authorized to practice in Liberia,” LBNM said on its public service bulletin, dated January 23, 2018.
The public service announcement added, “all other nursing and midwifery schools not listed below are operating illegally and graduates from those institutions are not recognized by the LBNM.
“Please take note and attend only accredited nursing and midwifery schools to avoid further embarrassment to your professional career. Henceforth, anyone violating this announcement will be dealt with in accordance with the law. Remember that illegal practices of nursing and midwifery are a serious violation of human safety,” LBNM said.
On March 8, 2019, the LBNM released an updated list of accredited nursing and midwifery schools. Of the 21 accredited, nine are operating in Montserrado County. They include: Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA); Mother Patten College of Health Sciences; Christian O. Symthe College of Health Sciences; Lois Hemgren School of Nursing; Mabel McComb School of Health Science; Seventh Day Adventist University School of Nursing; Greater Vision College of Health Sciences; New Sight Eye Center (NSEC)-Ophthalmic Nursing Training Program; and the Bushrod Midwifery School.
The other, spread across the country, include: Winifred J. Harley School of Nursing College, Nimba County; Cuttington University Nursing College and Phebe school of Nursing and Midwifery, Bong County; Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery, Lofa County; Southeastern Region Midwifery Program, Grand Gedeh County; William V. S. Tubman University College of Health Sciences, Maryland County; Grand Bassa Community College of Sciences, Grand Bassa County; Ruth Ramstrand School of Nursing, Lofa County; Bomi Community College, Bomi County; Nimba Community College, Nimba County; and Cuttington University Junior College, Kakata, Margibi County.
The Daily Observer in November 2018 reported that the Commission on Higher Education conducted a series of assessments on the BUC and released a report on October 11, 2018 that the institution was operating illegally.
Following the assessment, the NCHE recommended to the institution to do all that is required to operate a university and that the administration must obtain accreditation in order to exert more effort to address cardinal issues raised during the evaluation, which BUC has not done, even up to now.
The NCHE, in its report, instructed the BUC administration to set up an equipped library with relevant instructional materials, in order to enhance research by students and lecturers; to ensure that the college is totally separated from the high school; and that BUC obtain accreditation from the Liberia Board of Nursing and Midwifery so as to qualify its nursing program.
In February 2019, NCHE gave BUC a letter allowing the institution to operate for two years until the administration can officially separate its secondary school from its university campus and also fulfill the other prescribed requirements.
The Commission noted that an institution cannot operate a university and high school in the same building, “because it makes it difficult for the college students to learn in a noisy environment.”