By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
CHRISTON Deveaux was the only male in the nursing cadet programme at his alma mater CR Walker back in 2012. Fast forward a decade later, and the field of nursing almost mirrors those days - Christon still stands as one of few male nurses touching lives through health care.
It is Christon’s mission to help change the way nursing is viewed. By telling his story, sharing his inspiration and what has been driving his passion all these years, he hopes it is no longer viewed as a female only profession.
“Ever since I was a child, I dreamt of being in the health care profession,” he said.
Christon’s path was not solidified until joining the nursing cadet programme in at CR Walker. In the cadet programme, initiated by the then Ministry of Health in 2012-2013, under the nursing direction of Marcel Johnson, he was the only male from his school in the programme.
Through this experience, Christon was afforded the invaluable opportunity to rotate throughout the government clinics and the hospital, where he was introduced to nursing care. This early exposure influenced his decision to study nursing at University of The Bahamas.
“I must add that the nursing cadet programme is an excellent programme for school students interested in nursing,” he told Tribune Health.
Christon who makes a point to mention his roots growing up in the Bain Town area, later obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of The Bahamas.
He is a registered nurse, licensed with The Bahamas Nursing Council since December 12, 2019.
He has worked at Doctors Hospital in the Emergency Room and Princess Margaret Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As well as with The Bahamas Ministry of Health and Wellness as “The Focal Point Nursing Officer Consultant” for the Climate Change and Health Project, in preparation for the Prime Minister to Present at COP 27 hosted in Egypt this past November.
Currently, he works as a nursing officer managing a health care centre and as a staff nurse at the Walk-In Medical Clinic.
Christon is also presently pursuing a Master of Science Degree at the University of the West Indies in Advanced Nursing Practice.
“What I enjoy most about nursing is the therapeutic nurse patient relationship that can be developed. And the experience of having a patient simply says, ‘Thank you Nurse Deveaux’. It makes me feel as if there is reason to go on,” he said.
While he is passionate about caring for individuals, Christon admits the job does not come without its share of ups and downs.
“Often times working as a nurse in The Bahamas, especially in the government system, you are over worked, undervalued and then under payed. Therefore, to know that you have contributed to a patient, or a client being pleased, it causes me to enjoy nursing.
“Being a former nursing union member under the able leadership of Amancha Williams, I had the opportunity to be a part of creating and accepting some of the clauses in the Present Industrial agreement which advocated for nurses to benefit more. Therefore, being a transformational leader or “A change Agent” for Nursing, this contributed to my enjoyment.
Some of those downsides as party of job can also come in the form of discrimination. He recalls a time he was “aggressively chased” out of a maternity ward last year sometime.
“I never knew that discrimination against male nurses existed until I became a Staff Nurse at the public hospital. I was literally aggressively chased out of the maternity ward earlier this year by a senior nursing officer with no explanation, while assisting a doctor to resuscitate a newborn baby as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. Additionally, discrimination through marginalisation is another challenge. Many times, as a male I was allocated to work away from the direct care of females, even if I was allocated just to serve medication for the entire eight hours.
“Many days I asked for the reason, but no reason could never be stated. I gathered it was more of personal opinions than current nursing practice and standards.
Also, there is a prevailing stigma that if a male decides to become a nurse, he is a homosexual. Which I can attest to is not true. Sometimes I wonder if the discrimination is based on nationality because, foreign male nurses such as Filipinos and Indians and now Cubans can work anywhere in our public hospital, while Bahamian male nurses marginalised,” he said.
He said changing these ideas even nurses themselves have about the profession will take vigorous education.
“Being a male nurse can be a distinction or a bad idea, it all depends on what you allow. I always try my best to uplift male nurses and hold the title with high distinction. Especially due to the scarcity of male nurses in our country. Additionally, as a male nurse, you always have to stand your grounds and demand respect or be fired by egotistical femininity in the nursing profession.”
Despite the playing field not being particularly leveled, more male nurses, he said are needed in the profession.
“We can use much more Bahamian male nurses in the profession to strike a gender and a nationality balance.”
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