How to effectively harness our resources and build a formidable Nigerian Healthcare System – Natasha Ibinye


Let’s get to meet you. Please tell us about yourself and your background

Thank you. Well, my name is Ibinye Minimah and I am a registered nurse.

I am a Nigerian from Opobo/Nkoro LGA in Rivers State. I am an energetic individual, fun loving and outgoing.

I’ve been practicing as a nurse for about nine years now, and I currently work as a Nurse in United Kingdom.

What are the things that inspired you to take up a career in Nursing? What are the challenges you must have encountered along your career path? 

Oh I love this question, actually my greatest motivation to become a nurse is my mom. She is a retired nurse and during her period of service going to work every day with her showed me a side of me (the compassionate side) and I really fell in love with the fact that I could step in the gap to make someone’s life easier or better.

For the challenges I’ve encountered, I can say for a fact that it’s a lot but I just have two that are very significant to me. Firstly having to give up most of my social activities ie partying and others to meet up some academic work or career work was really daunting for me, I found it very difficult considering I’m a social bee but good thing over the years I have found a way to harmonize and strike a balance so I get to feel satisfied on both ends. 

Nigeria is blessed with a lot of medics with different specializations, can you describe the difference in practicing locally and internationally. 

Oh very interesting question. I must say there is a vast difference between practicing in Nigeria and practicing outside the shores of Nigeria. As someone who has practiced in a few countries other than Nigeria I would say there is a huge gap between the practice back home and the practice overseas. A good example is that back in Nigeria we don’t have the best of equipment and the best of environments or facilities to harness the potential we possess. And I must say that Nigerian Nurses are very smart and intelligent they actually stand out wherever they are placed but back home we have limited resources and means to harness this potential. 

On the other hand, practicing Nursing outside Nigeria we discover they have better equipment, better platforms and they have better facilities that gives us the opportunity to be great. It also gives us the opportunity to explore what we have inside of us. Now although there are merits and demerits of both sides, like merits of working in Nigeria compared to the abroad and vice versa I can say for a fact that we have a huge gap in order to meet up the international standards so at the moment so I’ll just opine that practicing outside the shores of Nigeria gives a better platform for you as a nurse than back home but it a matter of time. I personally believe with time it’s going to get better in Nigeria.

There are a lot of young people interested in starting a Nursing career, what are the opportunities that exists in the career path of a professional Nurse?

Okay so I would say lots of opportunities exists for nurses as professionals actually. I realized a long time ago that Nursing practice is like playing in an open field and if you could carve a section out of it or choose a section there to play very well and play at your best you have a lot of opportunities to do very well for yourself with regards to becoming all you wish to or advancing your carrier. Ranging from various specialties like a perioperative nursing, pediatric nursing, ICU Nursing and every other specialty you could also become an advanced nurse practitioner, a nurse researcher which is very interesting by the way and finally the opportunity of becoming a tutor of course we have to keep the knowledge going. 

There’s also the opportunity advancing in your career as a professional Nurse and quite a lot of opportunities for anybody who wishes to be a nurse. But it’s safe to say to anybody who is interested in becoming a nurse or a professional Nurse honestly it’s just to develop the passion or have the passion because even if he/she wants to be a Nurse tutor, a diabetic Nurse, perioperative nurse, nurse researcher and advance nurse practitioner the basic you need is the passion because without the passion you’re not be able to do much or you won’t be able to excel in the nursing carrier. 

There is actually lots of specialties and lot of career advancement for anybody whose wish is to be a nurse.

How would you describe the major roles of a Nurse in patient care and administration and how has the journey been so far?

Oh this is a dicey one.  How would I describe the major roles of a nurse in patient care and administration? So far I’ll say it’s been lovely it’s been satisfying. 

For the most part of it it’s been very fulfilling. Back home in Nigeria I felt very satisfied after caring for my patients while overseas here I’ll be very honest I feel satisfied after caring for my patient but I feel even more satisfied when I get my pay check you know what I mean.

I mean it’s been very rewarding and generally and if you’re a nurse who is passionate about caring for others you’d understand me perfectly as being there for anyone at their weakest is very satisfying. Sometimes I go home and just the thank you my patient their significance other says to me, gives me a very good night’s rest you understand and despite how stressful work was I go to sleep happy knowing that I’ve been able to make someone else’s life better or I’ve been able to put a smile on someone’s face.

For the administrative part of it I don’t really have much to say regarding that because I have not been opportune to experience a lot of administrative roles but I think generally for nurses who are in the administrative role would find it rewarding as well because they get to make managerial decisions they get to look out for other colleagues also if it’s a system that works they can contribute and watch their input become implemented. I feel like it is very rewarding and it’s safe to say that I don’t think any medical administration team would function effectively without the presence of nurses. 

What advice would you give the Nigerian government in managing the trend of medical talent leaving the country and what could be the effects in future?

I must say I think the Nigerian government has had enough advice and mine might not make a difference immediately. But my advice for them to find a way to manage the alarming rate of medical talents leaving the country is to put more value on the medical professionals both in service and remuneration. In Nigeria we get so little value for doing so much and I think that’s a driving force for everybody leaving Nigeria.

Secondly, quality of life should be looked into i.e. security and peace of mind. As a fact, quality of life is a yardstick to measure governance

If these are not checked and balanced, in due time all the medical professionals leaving the country would leave us eventually brain drained and then they might have to import nurses from overseas which would cost them more and make health care unaffordable consequently increasing mortality and morbidity rates.

Can you describe one of your career defining moments during the outbreak of the pandemic? What values can you draw from the experience?

Very Insightful question! One career defining moment I had to in the outbreak of the pandemic was me discovering that I had ability to put my life on the line to care for others and I’m really grateful to Indorama Eleme Petrochemical and the Flying Doctors of Nigeria because they give me that opportunity to unleash that part of me and subsequently I was able to seize the opportunity to be a front liner outside Nigeria with an Australian Based Company. I didn’t know I’ll be able to put my life on the line for all of us and the pandemic give me that opportunity to know how Neck Deep I am with being a Nurse.

The values I drew from this to mention a few are to always be ready and open for opportunities as they may arise anywhere and anytime. Also I discovered due diligence pays, it also pays to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. I mean, if the opportunity is there, seize it, it might never be that available moving forward.

What should Nigerians and the world expect from you in the next couple of years?

A lot actually in a few years’ time. I should be in a better place. I’ll be representing the country Nigeria excellently in the global medical field.

More so I actually look forward to setting up an agency back home, something that has international standards, liaison and resources that can encourage best practices so we can get the best of medical care. 

Thank you for your time.

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