Ralueke Ekezie is an innovative research nurse in Nigeria, and a long-standing member of Global Health Trials and Global Research Nurses. He has organised many events to support research nurses in Nigeria. Here, he tells us about his role.
How did you decide to get into Nursing Originally?
I was growing up seeing one of my favourite aunties being a perfect Nurse. She was the first nurse in the family and was a senior to my mum. I had two options either to study being a Physician or a Nurse. Then, I took the School of nursing exam and passed and decided take it on. It was the passion I saw in my auntie every minute of the day that led me to want to become a nurse. Her nursing orientation does not stop at the work place, she carries it everywhere she is and that was exactly the type of passion I wanted to have for my career and job. The way she tries to care for everyone around, ensuring everybody gets to the right place of care and receives care from the right source, as well as having time to talk to everyone individually was one thing I wanted to do, to be able to meet people’s needs in the best possible way through nursing profession.
What was your first experience of research?
My first experience with research was during my nursing school days, of course a research project was one of the criteria one has to meet in order to qualify for the final exams. While many other students chose existing topics, I went for one where I needed to search for the data and do everything from scratch because there were no previous studies by a student of the school at that time. I researched on “Stigmatization of the mentally ill persons in Udi sididings Enugu State”. It was tough but increased my appetite for research significantly. I started to wonder if I could make my career as an independent research nurse, opening up a research facility and conducting nursing focused research after nursing school.
After nursing school I started working with nurses who were interested in research, especially the ones in nursing Education, I helped them in data collection for their research work, gathering of information through the internet and data analysis. Then again I was invited to work with an NGO on Malaria research in Ugwogo community in Enugu State where I served as a data collector as well.
Then I heard about the first Clinical Trial workshop at National Hospital Abuja, through Health Information for All (HIFA), organized by The Global Health Network, and decided to register and participate. I happened to be one of the few nurses who were in attendance and seeing the broad nature of research at the workshop, I decided to work towards developing my focus around it even more. I started taking free online courses about research and started writing about the need to develop nursing research and more research nurses in Africa as these areas were and is still are under represented and underdeveloped. There were many positive reactions in support of my publications, hence I started developing more and more contacts, looking at how nurses could be better equipped with nursing research skills, still undertaking individual research work, for postgraduate student researchers and organizations.
Without a certification in nursing research or working in nurse education here in Nigeria, I have found it difficult to carry out my own research as a result of limited resources and publication issues. I have been working with Global Research Nurses since 2014, when we organized the first free research workshop in clinical nursing in Nigeria for 35 participants only; then a radio programme in 2015 also based on nursing research, where research nurses (I was one of them) went live on radio to discuss nursing research while people called in from different locations to ask questions.
In 2017 we organized another one day free research workshop for 50 nurses in Nigeria, in April and in November, we organized a two day free nursing research workshop for nurses in Nigeria where 90 nurses participated.
I have worked hard to help build the capacity of nursing research in Africa through The Global Health Network with Global Research Nurses (GRN) where I have been fortunate to work with about 4-5 experienced research coordinators.
I have also registered with different nursing research organizations which are working to develop permanent changes in attitudes towards research and to find more research opportunities for nurses. I have made my company Blue Torch Home Care available as a channel to carry out research and I continue to organize research training for nurses whenever possible.
What do/don’t enjoy about being a research nurse?
I enjoy being able to make a change in the way nursing research activities are being carried out in our various institutions, affecting patients’ experience and health outcomes through research findings, as well as being able to have an impact on other nurses through research education; I think it is currently very important in Africa for the growth of nursing sector and nursing research.
What I do not enjoy is that most results/nursing research outcomes are hardly implemented in the work settings; implementation of research findings still remains a problem and it is frustrating because results needs to be tested and the beneficiaries who should be the patients are not benefiting from research findings as much as they should. Also the fact that nurses find it very difficult to publish their research work is another hurdle.
What do you think could help other research nurses in their careers?
Nursing clinical research needs to be developed and each institution needs to have a nursing research department and as well have implementation monitoring groups in the hospitals who ensure that nursing research findings are tested and results are being implemented. There is need to have more resources channeled to nursing research in general especially clinical nursing research.
To have a nursing research organization in Africa where members can have access to resources, mentorship and courses which will equip them toward becoming better researchers and as well creating more research nurses for future development, would be a great benefit. Also a research organization in Africa dedicated to nursing research would improve some existing difficulties with the ethics committees of some healthcare institutions, by issuing their own ethical clearance to carry out pure clinical nursing research .
Availability and access to funds for nursing research would go a long way to help those who are genuinely working hard to carry out nursing research.
Nursing research in Africa has the potential to make a huge contribution towards improving individual, national and international health outcomes.
That is a good one there. I hope it motivate other nurses to start making gestures towards clinical nursing research no matter how little. It will always be a step closer to an achievable dream.
This is an inspiratonal article. I particularly like the first answer which shows where Ralueke got his original ambition to be a nurse.
Perhaps only those of us who have experienced being a nurse can really understand what a very special and rewarding profession it is.
Good luck with all your efforts to raise the profile of nursing research in Nigeria and give it the status it deserves.