The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heartcare with confidence, compassion
- BM Birla’s special cardio-vascular and thoracic nursing course benefits sisters

Clara D’Mello left her native place, Manipal, in Karnataka, this January to hone her nursing skills. Nine months on, the 22-year-old is capable of taking “prompt decisions” in cardiac emergencies and monitor pre and post-operative treatment of open-heart surgery patients with elan.

Like many others, she has benefited from the special course in cardio-vascular and thoracic nursing conducted by the nursing department of B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre (BMBHRC). “This is the only course in this part of the country recognised by the Indian Nursing Council and has found acceptance even in the international arena,” says Avanti Goppan, nursing director at the super-speciality hospital.

“I did a three-year basic nursing diploma course in Manipal, but this programme is so useful, as it injects confidence and leadership qualities,” says Clara. She plans to complete the two-year training schedule at BMBHRC before returning to Manipal and serve in one of the super-speciality cardiac hospitals there.

The 10-month orientation course started in 1993 with only seven students, and has become “extremely popular” over the years, with 176 students passing out in 10 batches. Any registered nurse (B.Sc or diploma holder) is eligible for the course. “At BMBHRC, nurses are trained to provide not only efficient, but also compassionate care to the patient,” observes Goppan.

The course comprises two weeks of block teaching, 1,140 hours of intensive clinical practice and 380 hours of theory lessons. “Besides, we have regular evaluation and internal assessment. The objective is to keep them up to date with the latest nursing trends,” the nursing director adds. The candidates have to pass a written test and a practical exam conducted by the Nursing Council. Most of the pass-outs are deployed in the critical care unit.

“In the CCU, we have to be prepared for any emergency and react fast,” says 25-year-old Anu Mathew, a B.Sc nursing degree-holder from Alleppey, Kerala. Anu, who is about to complete the orientation programme at BMBHRC, now helps doctors at the hospital cope with myocardial infarction patients, and also contributes in spreading awareness outside the campus.

The specialised staff nurses graduate to junior sisters-in-charge, who have to conduct regular in-service classes or act as preceptors at these classes. They also conduct rehabilitation programmes for cardiac patients and work to raise awareness on cardiac conditions.

As part of their curriculum, the candidates participated in awareness-building interfaces in four city schools this year. They went to St Paul’s, St Teresa’s, St Thomas and Modern High, to give a demonstration of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and speak about risk factors of cardiac illness and a healthy diet.

“We are taught to react also to out-of-hospital emergency situations and provide cardio-pulmonary resuscitation when required. It calls for a lot of courage and the programme teaches us to be brave,” smiles Anu. Besides the orientation course, every year, nurses from various parts of the country come to BMBHRC for training in various critical-care areas.

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