Further Information: 

My name is Steffi Spencer-Vire. I am a 33-year-old Registered Nurse from Trinidad and Tobago. I have been a Registered Nurse for the past 11 years at the Port-of- Spain General Hospital, our public hospital within the capital city. Of that time, I spent the last 6 years working within the ICU department (1 year of which was spent in a COVID ICU). Critical Care has always been where I wished to work when I became a nurse, so it was an honor to be chosen to learn and work there.

When I joined the ICU, I had an amazing Nursing Preceptor who gave us a 6-month crash course in ICU nursing, and while the pace and information load was grueling and overwhelming, she gave me the strong foundation that I stood on for the duration of my ICU experience. She also encouraged me to further my studies.

Locally, there is no tertiary degree in critical care nursing. Each public hospital hosts their own in-house course that lasts about 18 months and is supported by the ministry of health. However, these programmes are riddled with problems, much of which stems from trying to find one of the few tertiary qualified critical care nurses to teach. The last programme was in 2018. I firmly believe that there is great room for improvement in terms of the quality of our local critical care programmes. I have always been taught by my mother that, should there be a problem you wish to solve, you must put yourself in a position to solve it. My country needs better nurses. It needs better ICU nurses and critical care nurse training, and it lacks qualified educators to achieve this.

This is why I enrolled in the Critical Care Master’s here at the University of Edinburgh. I want to gain the knowledge and qualifications needed to become an educator that can better our nurses. I also want to become a better nurse myself so I can improve patient care and help guide the large influx of younger inexperienced nurses in the correct practice. My long-term goal is to develop a tertiary degree locally for the training of Critical care nurses.

Financially, I knew achieving this goal would be challenging. This degree costs a major portion of my yearly salary. Additionally, recent life changes have further strained my financial security. This is why I am eternally grateful to have received this scholarship. I was unsure if I’d have to delay my studies due to financial burden but now, I can finish my final year and continue working towards my goal without interruption. Thank you.