Fresh Troubles with New Nursing Reforms

Fresh Troubles with New Nursing Reforms

The cumbersome nature of the new guidelines for certificate verification process for internationally educated nurses has sparked suspicion and outrage from Nigerian nurses. Yinka Olatunbosun reports

Nurses in Nigeria are in a pitiable dilemma. There is a need to earn a decent living and the obligation to serve humanity within their country of origin. Sadly, unfavourable working conditions of nurses have propelled many of these professionals to leave Nigerian shores shortly after graduating from their various institutions of learning.

In desperation, many seekers of greener pastures are obtaining foreign nursing qualifications with a view to get registered in their home countries. 

To maintain professionalism, foreign trained nurses are generally required to write a test to qualify for registration in Nigeria. These internationally educated nurses must complete a two-part test of competence to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council register, which includes the computer-based test (CBT) that can be sat in their home country.

Unfortunately, the system of testing internationally trained nurses in Nigeria had been infiltrated by certain irregularities. For instance, in 2023, a leading test provider, Pearson VUE raised alarm over what it described as “anomalous data” coming from a third-party test centre in Ibadan.

Pearson VUE runs the CBT tests across the world and hosts 20 test centres in Nigeria only. When the organisation alerted the NMC to the anomalous data, it immediately suspended all testing at the Ibadan site.

Indeed, it couldn’t have been more obvious that the nursing education system is in dire need of reforms. From poor working conditions of nurses to clumsy testing for new ones, the NMCN had to wake up to its responsibility as a regulator.

In response to the poor welfare package for nurses and the need to sanitise the profession, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) recently announced some reforms in the nursing education and practice. Essentially, these are said to be revised guidelines and requirements for the verification.

One of these reforms is that it is now mandatory that graduates of foreign nursing schools register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) and obtain a licence to practise prior to their professional practice in Nigeria. This process may take a minimum of six (6) months and maximum of eighteen (18) months. 

Furthermore, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) says applicants seeking the verification of certificates to foreign nursing boards and councils must possess two years post qualification experience.

Also, it was stated in the guidelines that applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee per application for verification to foreign boards of nursing as specified on the council’s portal.

“This shall cover the cost of courier services to the applicant’s institution(s) of training, place of work, and Foreign Board,” the guideline reads.

“Eligible applicants must have a minimum of two (2) years post qualification experience from the date of issuance of permanent practising licence. Any application with a provisional licence shall be rejected outrightly.”

The part that many nurses find disturbing is the one that requires nurses to provide proof of good standing.

It reads: “The Council shall request a letter of Good Standing from the Chief Executive Officer of applicant’s place(s) of work and the last nursing training institutions attended and responses on these shall be addressed directly to the Registrar/CEO, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. Please note that Council shall not accept such letter(s) through the applicant.

However, these revised guidelines have generated outrage on social media with many nurses and health workers describing it as a violation of human rights.

Some tweeps alleged that the reforms are clever clogs in the wheels of progress of nurses in Nigeria.

An X user with the name @mysticimani said: “Trapping nurses and midwives in this country because of brain drain when this same brain drain can be solved fairly easily; pretending like a job with living wages, a conducive work environment and benefits is available in this country when they graduate is absurd”.

Another user @alongeelisha commented:  “Nonsense!!! This is a denial of human rights and it shall be informed to @ICNurses @WHO @UNHumanRights. Having been verified by different nursing bodies around the world. There has never been an occasion where regulating bodies asked for work experience or mandated years of service.”


Nurses under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Abuja and Lagos chapters, protested the new circular on certificate verification by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).

The nurses converged on the NMCN’s offices in Abuja and Lagos to express their dissatisfaction while threatening a nationwide strike. 

They further described the new guidelines as an effort to impede their freedom.

Taking the outrage further, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives held an emergency state executive council (SEC) meeting to review the said reforms by NMCN and made resolutions.

The SEC raised concern on the intentionally complicated nature of the verification process as well as the prolonged six-month minimum processing period stipulated in the guidelines. The body regarded this development as a deliberate attempt to make the verification process burdensome.

According to a statement issued at the emergency SEC meeting, “the SEC viewed the prerequisite of two years of post-qualification practice as an aspersion on the quality of nurses and midwives licensed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria and an infringement on their rights.”

Therefore, the SEC called for the immediate reversal and withdrawal of the new guidelines on certificate verification, demanding for a fully digitised verification process that include the transmission of decisions to other regulatory councils.

In addition, the SEC called on the federal government for the immediate Constitution of the NMCN board to ensure good representation of the interests of nurses and midwives in key decision making.

The body sought for improved working condition for nurses and midwives in Nigeria as well as better remuneration to curb the mass migration of these professionals.


Trapping nurses and midwives in this country because of brain drain when this same brain drain can be solved fairly easily; pretending like a job with living wages, a conducive work environment and benefits is available in this country when they graduate is absurd

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