Category Archives: Health Careers

Nursing Examinations: When you get a supplementary

For all the trepidation that comes with getting one, the truth is that supplementary exams are a part of the flora of nursing school. The risk factor for this potentially debilitating condition is something  that is the bread of butter of pursuing a degree in nursing: nursing examinations. 

We used to call them sups. And god! Didn’t we dread them. Oh! The shame. Oh! the fear of failing again on the retake. What will my parents say if they find out? What reputation am I building among my colleagues?

“You know her?”

” Who? “

“That one who got a sup.”

(momentary silence)

“And they way I thought highly of her going by the way she carries herself! Mmmh!”

(smirk of the lips ). 

Dear future nurse; You got to have the right mentality within your arsenal to overcome the gloomy days of nursing school. Otherwise, you’ll be walking around paranoid, replaying such deluded conversations in your mind. Make no mistake. Such tribulations that make you doubt yourself -supplementary exams-  are part of the price to pay for earning the honor and perks of nursing career.

The Character of a Nurse is as Important as the Knowledge she Possesses

By design, nursing examinations are designed to challenge you. Moreover, that are intended to push you so that you can learn the gift of giving and giving. Why? You might wonder. Because nursing is a job whose roles and responsibilities are best summed as giving. And then giving some more even if no one else is giving. 

Brother, nursing examinations are made to squeeze out that pride that can be blinding (thus missing a nursing diagnosis). Extinguishing the so called god mentality that comes with acing stuff right, center and left.

In this regard, supplementary exams are bae. Why? You might wonder. My explanation? Overcoming supplementary exams in the high pressure calderon of nursing school requires character.

to experience the joy of nursing, you have to pass your nursing examinations
Uhuru park, Nairobi, Kenya: A nurse role plays with a street boy during demonstrations in the June 2017 nurses strike.

First, All Nursing Student’s Need To Know Sups Are Normal….

We start this conversation on supplementary exams with a revelation. I persistently implore my mentees – some who’ve bravely borne the confidence sapping brunt of the supplementary – to acknowledge that failing a nursing examination is normal. If it weren’t normal, there wouldn’t be the second chance. It is a statistically normal occurrence thus the effort made to make retakes, otherwise known as supplementary exams. Otherwise, the options would be binary. Either you pass – Yeah! Or you fail – Boo! Please sod off. But that’s not the case.

One you acknowledge that taking a supplementary exam is normal – meaning that it can happen to any one – that defeatist nagging voice in your head asking: “Why me?” takes a hike to the Himalayas never to return. This transformation in mindset then becomes your elixir to success in all the nursing examinations you’ll face and ace moving forward.

To fully appreciate what one can expect in nursing school, refer to my distilled take on hacking nursing school which covers more breadth. From dating to satisfying examiners and even our radical advice on running a side hustle.  To that list, we’d like to add our road map to handling nursing examinations and particularly supplementary exams. But before we get there, here are the major three ways that one ends up with a supplementary.

Ways by which you end up with a Sup

Pursuing Bsn and RN programs, means tackling examinations almost ad infitum. The energy sapping nursing examinations can be either written or oral. The areas covered includes both nursing theory and clinical nursing. While different nursing schools have different examination rules, in general, these situations account for a majority of supplementary exams in Bsc. in Nursing and RN programs.

When a nursing student fails short of these requirements (or by fate finds him/herself in these situations) retakes are almost inevitable. Take note of these situations as some are avoidable:

Avoid These Situations and Sups Wont See You

A student may want to deferred their nursing examinations. Subsequently they rightly make a request for deferment. However, they preemptively make the wrong bet that their request will be granted. In most cases, permission to defer partaking university exams is granted on concrete reasons such as death in the family or major sickness.

Check with your nursing school on procedures and processes. With the assistance of your school’s dean of students, you can even defer your exams in less ’emergency’ situations. Though not encouraged, I’ve heard of cases where students in some nursing schools defer exams for simply not being ready.

The more common reason -and the one that carries more stigma- is partaking of supplementary exams by students who failed a unit by no more than five per cent of the pass rate (usually a mark of 45-49). This requirement depends on university senate provisions. As you realize,  the difference between passing and taking a supplementary can be marginal. A mere five percent! So don’t be so hard on yourself.

Where a pass would complete all academic requirements for the degree or the unit failure would significantly impact on one’s academic progress.

NOTE: If you miss nursing examination without prior sufficient notice as spelt out by your nursing school governing body, it is taken that the student willingly forfeited the exams. This usually warrants a serious sanctions such as being forced to repeat a whole year.

Such volunteer work such as acting on the board of your alumunus could be the differnce maker in clinching some nursing jobs
The Author, Anne Kharunda, at her alumnus Kibabii Girls Primary School in Bungoma County where she voluntarily serves on the board.

My Experience: Of Love letters and Nursing Examinations

The practice in many accredited nursing schools is to write letters to eligible students inviting them to re-sit nominated supplementary exams.  In my nursing school, we christened this letter: The “love letter”. Notice to pick a “love letter” often came via a text message from the school registry. The letter in itself consisted of a single line under the school letter head, well referenced and signed off hurriedly by the nursing school head of department. Folded on itself once and sealed via a single staple pin, receiving this A4 paper meant your fate was sealed.

Upon receiving your love letter, you were required to respond by a given deadline. You were to confirm by then whether or not you were willing to take the supplementary nursing examination. Given the obvious incentive to keep this away from your parent, the biggest hurdle was the small examination fee required.

Though it isn’t our intention to encourage blindsiding your parents, even if your folks are cool and are willing to assist, having them paying this supplementary exam fee is a sure way of them demonstrating their faith in you. Truth is you need a strong social support network to hack nursing school and thereafter navigate the rigors of hunting for a nursing job. Therefore, you better make or know your allies early enough.

Satisfy Your Examiners

The second truth is that many African parents might see your supplementary as a sign of irresponsibility! It can be worse if you are a first born who’s expected to lead by example. Tragic when you are one of those guys who the whole community chipped in to get you into nursing school. What better way to take charge than to commit to making this misdemeanor go away?

Yet again, I urge caution. Do not be distracted. Your primary role is to ensure you ace the supplementary exams. In the event you are unsure of your ability to honor this fee obligation, talk to your friends, mentors and dean of students. For many of my classmates, the proceeds from side hustles (that we discussed in detail in our guide to hacking nursing school) came in handy in catering for this fee.

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Nursing examinations: The Cardinal rule with supplementary exams

Retake all supplementary exams on time and get your final grades before proceeding to the next stage. If your nursing school has arrangements for remedial classes for the units failed, please attend them 100%. Don’t let failure define you! Fight! If possible, approach your instructor for the units that you failed for guidance. Remember, it’s not out of malice that you did not make the grade. As we said earlier, it is not about you. Retaking nursing examinations can happen to anyone.

Nursing examinations

“Call for help!” In any emergency situation, as health professionals, we are mandated to call for help first as the initial intervention. The secret to passing nursing examinations supplementary exams is no different. Do not hide in shame!

In most cases, not until a nursing student completes the retake, can they get a complete result. Because an incomplete result can prevent a student from enrolling in some units. For example one can’t be allowed to enroll for midwifery II with a fail or incomplete result in Midwifery I.

How to always ace your nursing examinations: The irreplaceable role of mentors in nursing school

By now you should have realized that faculty staff are potential colleagues, mentors and coaches. When the times come, it is from this pool that you will get referees for your CV. Possibly even recommendation letters to your potential employers.

Always put your best foot forward. Do everything in your power to satisfy your faculty. Don’t be mistaken, satisfying your faculty is the reason why you are in nursing school. Think of this journey as an audition to be a member of a certain tribe. Learn their ways, customs and rituals.

Other Important Tit-Bits

Keep all school property like student IDs, library cards, school fees receipts etc properly to avoid unnecessary inconveniences. Sometimes you might get kicked out of the examination room simply because you’ve failed to properly identify yourself for lack of a school ID. Besides, safe custody of all school property including ID’s will ensure you get your caution money refund on completion.

On caution money, this as the money that you will kick off your nursing job search.

anne kharunda

Finally, while in nursing school, develop a personal reward system. Treat yourself to ice cream or whatever your poison is after your exams. Get an extra hour of sleep if you need it, Spoil yourself with a nice meal etc. Motivate yourself!  Don’t fall for the lie that you are too busy studying for a Bsn degree to have some fun. Always engage in extra curricular activities that will make you a better person. Make sure you get enough sleep. Exercise routinely. Pray. Be comfortable in your skin. Live within your means.

Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African

Finding for your dream nursing career job: Where the rubber meets the road

Finding that dream job that suits your life goals, from the many nursing career job options after nursing school can be challenging. Nobody teaches you how to go about this. Even if you are lucky enough to be in a nursing program that guides their nursing students on career options, chances are that when partaking a degree in nursing, the focus then is on passing the next exam. Whatever your background and whichever nursing graduate program you undertook, to narrow down on the most suitable nursing career job options for you requires one to be streetwise.

Earlier on, we explored aspects that center on above water techniques in job hunting. Today, we highlight the streetwise moves. Tricks that I learned as fresh Bsn Degree graduate looking to build a career in nursing. And strategies by successful nursing job applicants that I’ve witnessed as an interviewer and employer.

But before making your first move towards a career in nursing, I pose this question that I ask my mentees over and over. Where would you like to be in say six months? Three years? Five years? If your answer is say, bedside nursing, or nurse practitioner or pursuing your masters in nursing, then we know where to focus our energies.

Identify a target and put in sight: choosing nursing career jobs

I urge my mentees to take time after nursing school for serious time with themselves to weigh the different nursing career job options to build their lives around. As we shared earlier on Bsc in Nursing degree career options, there are tons of nursing career jobs ranging from: nurse practitioners, travel nursing jobs, nursing agency jobs, nursing teaching jobs and even nursing research jobs.

The easiest way to find clarity and purpose is to take a look at anyone you know holding a position you would like to hold and try drawing a connecting line between you to them. Ask yourself if that dream job became available today, will you be able to take up the job ? What comes with it ? (There is always a price to pay. Do remember also that privileges come with responsibilities) . To answer this important questions, here is a two-pronged strategy that has worked for me:

Towards a fulfilling nursing career job: Talk to those who hold jobs that you dream of

Find time to talk to them who you admire. Don’t rely on hearsay. Hearsay has this way of making it seem like anyone who got anywhere or did anything had to employ some unethical means: Sleeping around, undercutting colleagues, political influence etc. It should be easier to talk with someone who you are not in direct competition with.

Like those three, five years your seniors (This is one reason why I urge young nurses to plan three, five years ahead). Shake off the fear that they might blow you off. Most of the time, our fears have no legs except in our minds. The truth is that most people who’ve achieved anything in life get flattered when somebody takes interest in their careers. From my own experience, it even has a calming effect as it allows me to take stock and count my blessings as this streetwise tip reveals. (click on title to reveal tips)

Streetwise Tip: Mining Gold. The value of getting your mentor to speak.

Trust me, the hustle does get to you and makes one blind of his/her achievements. Besides, whenever, I meet up with a young nurse seeking to learn form my journey, the natural tendency is to give the best I have. Lessons from my mistakes, missed opportunities and what I would do if I had the chance to do it all over again. These, gems of advice if you ask me.

Handling talking to a potential mentor: Questions to ask and unlock prospects of your dream nursing career jobs

I will be sharing more on mentorship- from how I got my first mentor to reading body language to becoming a mentor myself. However, today I’ll be sharing a framework that I use whenever advising a mentee on nursing career jobs. Once I have answered all the questions, I’m certain the mentee is ready to face the world.

Have you ever heard of the 5W1H?  Well, it a strategy to get all that  pertains information gathering and problem solving. This framework that’s useful in diverse fields from solving ethical dilemmas, social science research, journalism and police investigations still sorts me out even in my consulting. It’s that effective.

Finding fulfilling nursing careers jobs can be less daunting if the What , Who, Where, How framework used in consultancy is applied
How often do applicants in nursing career job as themselves these questions before embarking on a job hunt? Image credit|

Don’t repeat my mistakes!

I remember taking up my first job in an accident and emergency clinic tied to leading health insurance company. I was one of the paramedics manning the ambulance. Truth is I never did due diligence of the position. When I landed the job, I was too excited to read my TOR. I quickly appended my signature after glancing at the remuneration part lest they changed their minds.

At first working as a medivac nurse, was very exciting! I enjoyed the chopper rides here and there. But it was not long before getting bored. Before long, I wanted to get out as soon as possible. My being couldn’t manage the adrenaline rush that came with daily evacuations. I resigned shortly thereafter. While as Steve Jobs urges that joining the dots backwards reveals the purpose of every step, we are here to shorten the learning curve; right?

Do not despise humble beginnings

Be pragmatic.  As we Kenyans like to say: “Shikilia hapo!” Desist from the notion that you are too big to work in a certain company. The trick is to negotiate for your job description to match your chosen path. Make sure that it’s legal too. That your employer is registered to offer professional nursing services. Chances are that when starting out in your nursing career, you’ll offer more value than you’ll get compensated for.

Many employers will wish to walk the professional journey with you. Loyalty is scare nowadays, but if you find the right organization, growing with them might be the best decision ever. They will be there to protect you from shocks allowing you to grow through the various nursing career job options without painful disruption such as job loss.

On volunteering as a way to explore the different nursing career job options

Another thing to consider when starting out is to avoid gaps in your CV by volunteering. You can volunteer in the government facility nearest to your home and have them write you a recommendation letter.

Streetwise Tip: Nabbing a Volunteer Position in your County Government Health Department

One trick I have learned working in communities is to respect their organizational hierarchies. Therefore, while seeking to volunteer in a nearby facility, place your request with the health facility management committee not the county HR or CEC’s office. Play your politics smartly. The guys at the top listen to the guys they’ve placed/work with at the bottom.

Side note: I found one proposal by the Uhuru administration admirable. The one where the Deputy president toyed with the idea of having youth volunteers in various ministries awhile back. Connecting jobless youth with internship opportunities in the private and third sector kind of thing. I wonder what came of it? I hope that it comes to see the light of day someday.

As we continue our conversation on finding your dream nursing career job, you’ll learn a lot about volunteering. For now though, keep this streetwise tip in mind.

Streetwise Tip: Looking for a volunteer position? This mindset will get you your dream spot

Do not volunteer with an intention of getting employed. Many organizations will grin at this cheap manipulation. Aim at getting the experience instead. Its invaluable.

Aggression Unlocks Nursing career jobs

Make google your friend. Subscribe to all job blogs like brightermonday, newkenyanjobs, the star newspaper jobs blog, LinkedIn jobs blog, relief web, my Facebook page etc. Spend your time on social media looking for leads on nursing career job opening. Expand your search to include jobs that may require a Bsn Degree but are not necessarily nursing careers such as health management and research administrators.

However, that’s basic. Everyone does that. How do you stand out from the crowd? Makeup? Nah; too crony. Blog post? Nah; these one serve you best when better established and your goal is to build reputation as an authority in your niche. What about this streetwise move?

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How to apply for an advertised job

When you get hold of an advert, read it carefully. Reread it again and try to picture yourself as the successful candidate. You need a positive attitude. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable with the organization in question and the job location. If the answers to these two are yes then proceed. This streetwise move will make it seem like you were made for the job and vice-versa

Streetwise Tip: Lay down a marker

Drop your documents in an organization that has not advertised. The downside is that it is very expensive. The upside, you get a chance to meet your potential employer. My experience is that when organizations are not openly hiring, the people responsible are more open to meeting job seekers. The reason behind this that: They already have an answer: “We are not hiring at the moment, but we’ll put you into our database”.

This puts them at ease. Doors are more likely to open. There is no risk of canvassing/ them put into pressure as there is no position to fill. Therefore less aggression/logs thrown your way under your feet. Think of it as chicken with chicks Vs. one without. The end game is that it easier to make an impression in a less threatening environment.

Trust me, as an interviewer, it easier to remember the people you have meet when not hiring as opposed to those you meet in the thick of a job interview. Why? Because always the potential interviewee gets an opportunity to set the standards.

The field is open literally, there’s no other CVs to compare yours with. No other candidates. No nervousness on your part. If you get a chance to meet someone, make it short and precise. Know yourself well. Make sure your dates and events match. Let them know that you are available for to take up part time nursing jobs on short notice. Sign off with a summary of your CV.

Streetwise Tip: Just like in dating, if she likes to dance, you better brush up on your dancing skills.

Google around what competencies other organizations are looking for in the same position. For example if you got a job advert for Makueni County hiring graduate nurses, google what competencies other counties were looking for from graduate nurses. Use these roles and responsibilities that closely match your experience to flesh up your CV. Secret is never lie

Follow application instructions in spirit and to the letter. For Example an organization requires one to apply online and send hard copies of the application to a certain location. Do just that. Remember to indicate job advert number in the reference section of your cover letter and as well as the top of the envelope.

Never send late applications

Make sure you send your applications on time. Never send late applications unless timelines are extended. Avoid the last minute rush. A late application always ends up in the shredder. You get no chance to audition even before the pre-interview selection panel. It is just a waste of money that you’ll need in your job hunt.

Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get your documents ready. Photocopying and arranging your credentials can make you late in dropping an application that comes up on short notice. Streetwise tip is to ensure you have copies of your degree certificates, ID and other documents that may not require editing for every application ready.

Other streetwise tips

  1. Be abreast with the latest in your field. Google the latest interventions in the practice of your dream nursing career job.
  2. Do not canvas. Do your homework. In case you know a member of staff in the organization you wish to join, not directly involved in hiring, it might be wise to call them up and find out what they think of the job. They may also give you insight of the organization`s expectation, salary range etc.
  3. Do not be desperate. Don’t start crying when asked about yourself however harrowing your experience to getting there. People shy away from jobless contacts for fear of dependency.
  4. Create rapport with cleaners, secretaries and watchmen. They might be the difference between you losing out on a job simply because you took too long to get to the interview room after getting to the interview location.

Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African

Finding Degree Nursing jobs in Kenya: 3 Tips from tens of interviews & hundreds of interviewees

Census projections by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates the Kenyan population to be approximately 45million in 2017. Averagely 20% of Kenyans are unemployed. Dear nurse,brace yourself for this reality. After graduating from nursing school prepare to be jobless or at best get shitty offers dressed as entry level nursing jobs. Pardon my French; but this is a difficult time for nurses especially with the Kenyan health sector in turmoil.

The unfolding Kenyan health crisis occasioned by chaotic promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provisions on health; longstanding systemic under funding; bipartisanship and unresponsive health policies have gotten us here. As health professionals in Kenya, we can only work towards ensuring that the phoenix arises from the ashes.

In the current troubled Kenyan health sector, finding rewarding nursing jobs can be daunting. This quote reminds us that God wouldn't hand us a cup to bitter to pertake.

Having been trained as a nurse, duty supersedes nonchelance.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

-John F. Kennedy

Being a holder of a Bsn Degree, the threshold rises as a degree in nursing demands health leadership as an output. Dear nurse, don’t you fret; you will overcome. Rewarding nursing jobs can be hard to come by. Fair enough. Nothing you can do about somethings. What is tragic is when you allow the those that are right under your nose flyby without a muscle flicker. The secret is to cast your net wide. As wide as we have already identified in our breakdown of nursing careers beyond bedside nursing positions and community nursing jobs.

I’m here to offer guidance. In my nursing career, spanning a decade plus, I have interviewed hundreds of individuals seeking nursing positions. I have also interacted with scores of colleagues who know what it takes to pursue various nursing career options. A nursing position candidate who follows these four tips is likely to stand out in a crowded  field.

Build Your Career

1. Nursing  job listings: The importance of subscribing to job alerts of different types of nursing jobs.

In our post on hacking nursing school, we implored on the student pursing a Bsn Degree to master the art of satisfying examiners. Now that you are looking for jobs in nursing, the tricks remain the same.

Tip: Remember this simple yet easy to forget life hack: Preparation makes light work

As a general rule, in natural career progression, choosing which organization to work for becomes plausible as you gain experience and knowledge. But I encourage those pursuing nursing careers to always act like they are five years ahead of their current positions.

For instance, a Bsn Degree first year should think like an intern whose has completed their internship.Consider this matrix that follows the PDSA used in Quality Improvement in healthcare. Where you Plan, Do, Study then Act.

The Plan, Do, Study & Act Approach


Planning includes eg: What opportunities are available for a post internship Bsc in nursing? Where do I want to be in 5 years? Trend Analysis: What about these opportunities is unlikely to change?


Your answer from planning might be: I wish to be a nurse manager in one of the mushrooming outpatient centers. To ‘Do’ then might entail research for specific opportunities. Here you aim to answer specific questions like what skill set is required for job x in organization Y ? Some health organizations may require ‘sweeteners’ like volunteer experience. Use the lead time to build your volunteer experience. Others like government institution require certain training from The Kenya School of Government. This is the time to enrol.


What I have done to be ready? What can I do better?


This is where you implement the corrective action. For instance does you profile on social media build your brand as a professional? All the volunteer work that you have been doing, can you find a way for it to be captured?

Coming with such a simple career and personal development plan might seem daunting at first, but with the requisite information, it becomes Ubusuma na Mrenda as my father the Luhya might say it. ‘Kazi mboga’ as the teacher in him would translate. ‘A walk in the park’ as he would tirelessly say it to me as we sat with other parents and their kids (the lucky few of us who got visited) under the scanty shade of the lone playing ground tree.

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

To this quote by the great inventor Thomas Edison, supplant this simple yet easy to forget  life hack from my father: Preparation makes light work. Easy to digest advice that went down well with madiaba (500ml) Fanta and unsliced bread during those talks on visiting day at Kibabii Primary Girls boarding school. Your preparation for applying for nursing jobs in Kenya begins with collecting all the information you can find on careers in nursing in Kenya.

Such volunteer work such as acting on the board of your alumunus could be the differnce maker in clinching some nursing jobs
Volunteering: The Author, Anne Kharunda, at her alumnus Kibabii Girls Primary School in Bungoma County where she serves on the board.

Subscribe to LinkedIn nursing  jobs alerts. Create google alerts using keywords like nursing careers, careers in nursing, jobs for nurses and jobs in nursing. Ensure that you add identifiers such as Kenya and 2017 to create more targeted queries such as: nursing jobs currently available in Nairobi; locum nursing jobs in Nairobi 2017 e.t.c

Even if it might take a while to get your career and personal development plan going, at the very least you will be able to know which health organizations are growing and are thus more likely to undertake nursing recruitment. You can then target them by acquiring the right  skill set and experience.

At the very worst, keeping tabs with health care organizations might come in handy for answering that dreaded hob interview question: “Tell us what you know about this organization” or even “Do you have any questions for us?” to the ultimate game changer “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years; and how will working here fit into your plans?”

2.Preparing your documents: Getting it right with nursing jobs CVs

First things first. Write a sample CV. Emphasis on the ‘sample’ part. At this juncture, worry not over details like formatting. What I mean is that it should be as close to the document that will go before you, knock on doors, stand in your stead, champion for you before those nursing jobs interview. To get there, these three commandments should guide you:

  • Make a draft CV that details everything a prospective employer needs to know
  • Never have only one CV. Have several versions of your credentials. A CV for teaching clinical courses is different from the one needed for daily nursing practice.
  • Use professional CV writing companies . These guys are usually HR professionals and are the equivalent of match makers in the dating world.

3. Towards your dream nursing job: Choosing your referees and contact persons

In my earlier article on hacking nursing school, I implored on Bsn Degree students to stick to the wards as a strategy towards acing school of nursing. Part of the dividends of making this a habit are realized now when you go out job hunting.

During your stay in school, you must have identified permanent faculty members  who took you through certain units. Common sense dictates that you pick the ones that you got along with pretty fine first . Approach them and ask them to be your referees. These should also be people who can respond when called upon within short timelines. The secret here is avoid baggage who like wheelbarrows need to be pushed. A senior might be a fine tutor, friend, colleague but a pathetic referee.

As you chose your referees, pick mentors you can modeled your nursing career around. Mentors can help get you the right referees and be aware of a larger pool of nursing positions. For referee purposes, your picks should meet some criteria such as he/she unit or sectional heads. Be careful also not to go for an overkill for instance listing a world renown neurosurgeon as referee for a nursing locum position. Pick referees personally known to you.  Approach them and have them as your referees. Ask your referees to write recommendation letters for you. Recommendation letters add value to your application.

Disclaimer: Any brand or company mentioned here is not an endorsement but a point of information. My person, third parties on my behalf have not received, demanded or intend to demand inducements for this mention.

Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African

Bsc in Nursing : What next after your Nursing Degree in Kenya

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worthy. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Linda. Linda is a 23-year-old daughter to a bosom buddy and colleague. She is a girl who I have walked the academic journey with. Someone who I have given my input on such things as which school to join, which course to pursue and it has been well.  She is someone who I have mentored . Linda called as she had just graduated from nursing school with a Bsc in Nursing degree.

One of the perks of a Bsc in Nursing degree is pertaking in a colourful graduation ceremony like this one
UoN Graduands during the 50th Graduation Ceremony. Photo courtesy of College of Health Sciences

Our conversation took approximately 25 minutes. My little girl needed guidance on what to do after getting her nursing practicing license. This call made me think of many others in Linda`s shoes who had no one to look up to for guidance upon completion of a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

I remember walking this path a couple of years back.  Sadly for me, I was not privileged to have a mentor like Linda has in me. Remembering that anguish of not knowing what next has motivated me to pen this article. Hopefully be the end, you will know where to head next in your nursing career.

Bsc Nursing program training

In Kenya, the Bachelor’s degree in Nursing  training was first offered by Baraton University in late 80s. At the moment there are 24 nursing schools in Kenya in both public and private universities. The course lasts 4 and half years. Nursing school fees differ from one school to the other but are generally lower than the fees paid for dentistry and medicine. Kindly check different university websites for updated fees structures of their nursing degree programs.

My experience pursuing Bsc in Nursing in Kenya

I find it necessary to share my experience studying for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This is because the uncertainty surrounding Bsc in Nursing training in Kenya is the genesis of the trepidation graduates face upon completion.

By sharing my experience, I hope that recent degree nurses graduates can learn how compartmentalize experiences. And not to let the negative experiences during training lead to dejection whilst navigating the muddied waters of making a career out of your hard-earned degree.

First year of bachelor’s degree in nursing

In most Kenyan universities, first year students studying Bachelor of science Medicine and surgery, Bachelor of science Pharmacy, Bachelor of science dentistry, Bachelor of science Environmental health and Bsc Nursing are all  expected to take common units like Human Anatomy & Physiology Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Going back, I realize that dad was right I thought. University is a wonderful period but the requisite temperament is needed to emerge successful. Nursing school was initially lots of fun but that was before the examinations started coming thick and first.

Our first year class was short of a political rally. Lectures were given with the aid of a microphone and an overhead projector on a big screen like the one you watch in a movie theater. It was very difficult to know your classmates. We were approximately 800-1000 or thereabouts.

Second Year

Fast forward, to second year. Each department isolated their students. I felt awkward. I was excited and jealous at the same time.

Excited at getting close to my dream of impacting lives. One year down. Three and a half more to go.

Jealous of the environmental health students who didn’t have to sluice soiled linen, make beds, take vital signs undertake risky nursing procedures like dressing septic wounds and conducting deliveries with such high grades. To say the truth, bedside nursing was not just my thing.

Besides, I missed my friends. I don’t remember where my other colleagues studying Medicine, Pharmacy, dentistry and Environmental health went save for occasional meet ups in our rotations in the wards.

As many attest, training for a degree in nursing is no walk in the park. I remember making a reverse call home one evening. It was one of those lucky evenings I found old man in the house. He returned my call. We got talking. I mentioned challenges I was facing in nursing school.

Defeated, I wanted nothing to do with nursing. I told him my intention to drop out of nursing school and try education or something else like Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He asked me to go home over the weekend for a heart to heart conversation.

I almost quit nursing school

After dinner, we got to what had brought me home. Dad wore this face of a clenched fist. His pose was that of a defeated man. He sat on his favorite chair leaning forward with drooped shoulders like a sick bird. He was cheerless. Gloomy. Dejected. Troubled. Heartbroken. He asked me to state my case after a word of prayer from mum.

To cut the long story short, dad did not give an option to change courses. Dropping out of Nursing School was no option either.

He didn’t say much. He reminded me the humble background I had come from. And that studying a Bsc in Nursing was a privilege. It was  upon me to jump at it or fritter away. Since I was the first-born in a family of 12, as is the case in many other homes, dad expected me help pay my siblings fees after graduating with my degree in nursing. I went back to school determined to take Bsc Nursing head on. I promised myself to make my parents proud.

Build Your Career

First steps to making a career out of nursing once done with Bsc in Nursing

After graduation, all Bsc Nursing majors and other nurses trained outside the country are expected to pass the Kenya Nursing Council Licensing Exams. They will then proceed to undertake one year internship in approved hospitals.

Generally the Bsc Nursing internship program is intense and rigorous. Internship can be paid or non paid depending on the hospital. The government has been grappling with the idea of paying Bsc Nursing interns. This has not yet been concluded. After internship, these degree nurses will now be ready to be registered by the Nursing Council of Kenya.

At this point I traveled home as is tradition to thank God for everything good. This time my reason for meeting mum and dad was to show them my achievement.

The meeting was awesome. Dad was beaming with pride and joy. He was pleased in me. There was no electricity in my village. We didn’t even have paraffin to light our house that night. The joy in our hearts was sufficient. We shared a meal and evening prayer and slept.

The morning after dad charged me. He told me to get out with my “spear” the nursing degree and go hunting for jobs. I have never looked back

Career in Nursing: Kenyan Jobs in Nursing after Completing your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A Bsc in Nursing degree opens up job opportunities in specialist nursing jobs like theater nurses seen here assisting surgeons in surgery.

Young nurses should not to despair with the frequent nurses strikes in Kenya.  Couple of years down the line and I am still proud to have taken old man`s advise. Degree nursing has thousands of career opportunities. Given the shortage of nurses in Kenya, that sees even yet to graduate students offered nursing jobs, many make the mistake of not having the basics taken care of.  Just like other jobs, ensure you have your resume and other credentials ready.

  1. One can work with the central government in the two national hospitals ie MTRH or KNH. Degree nurses can also work with the national government as sectional heads or advisors to health management teams. A Bsc in Nursing prepares one for leadership in health. Your diligence and networking skills determine the ceiling for you.
  2. Nursing degree holders can also work with the county governments as a staff nurses, Directors of Nursing Services, Chief Officers, Directors of Health and County Executive Committee Member of Health. Even governors themselves.
  3. Bsc Nursing degree holders are hot cakes when it comes to them being employed by local and international NGOs; and the United Nations. Degree nurses work  in different capacities ranging from program officers, program coordinators, program managers, deputy chief of party, advisors, chief of party etc. Opportunities are abound.
  4. Jobs in Nursing are also available in private and government insurance companies as underwriters and health managers for holders of Bachelors degree in Nursing. Bsc Nursing majors can also work with NHIF in all areas ranging from quality assurance, compliance, enrollment, claims, etc
  5. Nurses can also join the military and other uniformed forces as specialists. Military nurses undergo a very rigorous military training when joining. They quickly move up the ranks soon after inauguration.
  6. Bsc Nurses can also work in special settings like prisons, airports and port services to take care of immigration health.
  7. Working with pharmaceutical companies as medical representatives. This is usually a very attractive offer given the fact that most companies give out cars to their sales team.
    Bsc Nurses expect to offer services in equiped hospitals like their peer pictured.
  8. Nursing teaching positions are available all over in the republic. The 24 universities offering nursing degree programs have not satisfied their staffing needs for masters degrees in nursing holders as well as PhD in nursing degrees.
  9. Degree nurses can also work with research organizations like KEMRI, CDC and Walter Reed as principal investigators, research assistants and research administrators etc
  10. A Bsc in Nursing opens the doors for working with private healthcare providers like The Aga Khan University, The Nairobi Hospital, MP Shah, The Karen Hospital etc. This will be such a nice opportunity for those who enjoy bedside nursing.
  11. For the entrepreneurs among us, degree nurses can also get licensed by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to operate nursing homes and private clinics
  12. There are many scholarships for degree nurses wishing to pursue masters and PhD degrees locally, in Europe, Australia and America.
  13. Nurses can also pursue the path to work and live in Europe, America, Australia etc

Masters degree in Nursing

In there somewhere, I found my perfect fit in public health. I have worked in a district hospital, national referral hospital and majorly,in a local non-governmental organization. I know of many Bsc in Nursing degree holders working in similar organizations, local and international, government and private, at positions similar to and more senior to mine.

Nursing pays. One needs to think through where they want to be and set out to achieve it. I will be sharing my masters degree experience later, including what I have gathered from peers who pursued masters degree in nursing.

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