How I worked with 12 Community Extension Workers as a 22Year old Nurse by Catherine Olatunji

Gist before the main gist 😀😀

See me at Panseke, Ogun state at the last antiquackery walk telling Emeka who a nurse is and who’s not 😃.

We walked that day enh, when I got home I didn’t know where I landed 😀😀. Emmmmm I only used the pics since I could not find any other pics to use because I noticed you people like fine pictures. I know it’s not fine. I didn’t even comb my wig well, but just help me like it .

Mind you, grab your popcorn and juice. It’s a long gist my people.


Today, I want to gist you guys of how I worked with 12 solid CHEWs and I survived it as a 22 year old nurse.

So I got a job at a government establishment, it was more of a small community health centre settings with doctors, nurses, CHEWs and other allied health workers.

I can remember on my first day of resumption I got the first shocker. I was sitting at the nurses table with a CHEW who happens to be my favourite later, and this Woman walked in, I greeted her and she didn’t even pay any attention nor replied.

The CHEW sitting with me told this woman that I’m the new nurse and I just resumed today, she turned to me and said in yoruba ‘ se nurse ti won se gba naa re to senu gbongbon gbon gbon ti o le kiyan” literally meant I couldn’t greet her and my mouth was “gbongbon” 😃😃

I was dazed but I swallowed it and explained to her that I actually greeted her, she just walked away despite my explanation.

I did not even know how to feel or react that day. As days goes by, I noticed so many lapses administratively, and in Nursing practice.

I noticed the way people rapport in the centre, especially nurses and others. I found that there was no much difference between the CHEWs and the nurses.

The nurses practically exchange duties with CHEWs without feeling anyhow about it. I’m talking about when nurses are comfortable leaving two CHEWs to man a shift and they don’t mind. It was like a norm.

Let me shock you further, when doctors are not around, these CHEWs will consult and give the notes to the Nurse to dispense or administer the drugs.

They write “nurses report” and have witnessed nurses thanking them for that 😀

They call the nurses by their names, no professional regard or respect nor boundaries…it was branded as “One love”

You guys already know that’s a facade, the so called “one love” wasn’t void of eye service, gossips and back biting…

Like I said , this is not the focused, its just to give you a background of my gist

Over the years, I have come to learn something called emotional intelligence and I think that was what helped me.

The first thing I did was to ensure I wasn’t lacking in any of my duties.

For whatever reason, I exchange my duty with a nurse if I needed to. I believe if you can exchange your duty with a CHEW, you’re simply saying – there is nothing I can do that you can’t do – we are equals.

I made sure I understand my roles and I set boundaries, I don’t delegate core Nursing duties to them no matter what. If I need help with it I get a fellow colleague.

I write my report and I don’t write ” patient slept on duty, vital signs done, made comfortable on bed and sign” – anyone can write that. What makes the difference as a nurse?

No matter what, I input one or two Nursing diagnoses, action plans with my evaluation.

When I’m on Night, I don’t embarass my profession and myself by removing all removables and sleep naked or wear Night gown…..oh jees! Eyes have seen my people.

At a time, I introduce myself and every other person working with me if I happen to be the only nurse on duty.

I go like, hello everyone, I am Nurse Olatunji and I will be your nurse for today. Working with me are CHEW so so so and so. And they are here to assist me . Many of those patient will ask me what’s the meaning of a CHEW and I gladly explain to them. Identity issue solved!

And even with all these some of them didn’t get the memo that I was different.

Let me share actual scenarios
Scenario 1

No doctor on seat.

Patient walks in, gets the card.

The CHEW started consulting, gave it to me to administer. She said Nurse Olatunji please go and dispense this.

I said okay.

I drew a line under what she prescribed and wrote Review

CT that
D/C that
Referred to see a doctor so so so

They were all oral medications. I can remember she prescribed antimalaria with Vit c or so and I removed it.

I gave it back to her to dispense, then I crosschecked the drugs and gave the patient.

You can say that wasn’t necessary, but that was the last time she decides to consult and send me forth to administer her plan of management.


Scenario 2

I resumed shift.

The CHEWs comes over to handover the patients to me when a registerd nurse was right there.

After she was done talking and she called the nurse to tell her they should leave, I told the nurse calmly she is yet to handover.

She said, I thought CHEW so so so handed over to you, I said yes she gave me a report but I need you to handover your patients.

I think at that time she got it. She handed over to me as it should be. And you have to speak in English …it’s a formal setting, except our establishment states otherwise.

Since that day, none of them tried to handover to me except ofcourse they are the only ones on duty.

Scenario 3

This CHEW has been stepping on my toes for a while….lol. They felt “my own is too much”

She started calling me by my first name at work that day. I don’t know the spirit that came over her.

CHEW Mrs : ehs, emmm, Kate abi Catherine, what’s that your name naaa

(Ward round going on, all beds full with patients and you know how loud yorubas talk)

Catherine : thinking it could not be me, maybe it was someone else.

CHEW: ehs , ehs…..Catherine I’m calling you.

Catherine: I just went about my work like no one was talking.

CHEW: steps into the nurses changing room.

I took the opportunity and went to meet her. I called her first name and asked if that was her first name (this was a woman in her 40s) , I told her I will start calling her by her name if she ever calls me by my first name in front of my patients and other health personnel. I told her ,I am so fine with the name but she should not be surprised when I do the same.

Guys, that was the last time she tried that with me.

I am not saying it’s bad to use your first name, but typical Nigerians will understand these Scenario I shared. I work in a place where we all refer to ourselves by our first name but this particular establishment, everyone uses the last name and most times with their respective titles.

Scenario 4

I resumed Night shift and I was working with a CHEW who decided to come late and also did not assist me in anyway.

I noticed it was intentional. They call each other and give report obviously and it was her turn to deal with me i guess 😀. She was bent on annoying me or make me say something.

I just breathe in and breathe out, programmed my head that I’m working alone.

Do the major things that I am suppose to do, the minor things was handed over to the next shift.

When they asked me why it wasn’t done, I just said Nursing is continuous, you can’t do everything.

By the 5th night, she was the one who asked me what do I need her to do.

I don’t know whatever the plan was, but I was intentional about not giving it to my feelings. Imagine someone resuming a shift with you,comes late and sleeps all through and leave without telling you 😀.

Even though I was damn annoyed, I kept cool and did my job.


It was not easy my people but I think I tried to deal with the situation the best I could , I wasn’t perfect either.

I am sure I inspired some nurses there and many of these attitudes were dropped. To anyone who cares to listen, I never stopped to tell them why there is a need for clear job boundaries.

You can not say you are a nurse and there’s absolutely no difference with how you practice.

This is Nigeria where we struggle with what exactly is our roles as nurses. Doctors are dragging it with us, CHEWs too Will come. As much as I will love NMCN to have a circular or written guidelines of nurses roles, we also need to take the bull by the horn.

Be confident , be diligent, be updated, learn learn unlearn, communicate rightly and ofcourse always make use of emotional intelligence when dealing with these people.

Avoid verbal insults or exchange at all cost. Overlook when necessary but sometimes some situations needs to be addressed.

I hope you find one or two things to learn from this.

Thanks for reading my long post. Believe me I tried to make it as short as I can 😀.

NB: I know I’m young, but if you will like to share with me challenges you might be facing with other health workers, I am here to listen and also offer some advice…’s all free of charge 😀😀

You can chat me up or drop in the comment section, association of nurses’ elders might also give their suggestions or opinions on how best to deal with such issues.

Shout out to the nurses who joined I and my team at Abeokuta. You all are amazing and I celebrate you always.

Love you all ❤❤

Topic image 1
Topic image 2

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.