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Nurses exam body introduces plagiarism checks to combat academic dishonesty

Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi

Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi

The Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Examinations Board (Unmeb) has announced intentions to introduce plagiarism testing on all nursing and midwifery reports in an effort to stop the growth in academic dishonesty.

Unmeb executive secretary, Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi revealed this initiative, pointing out a worrying pattern of applicants sending in duplicate work or copies of earlier submissions. 

“The purpose of this proactive measure is to uphold academic standards within the nursing and midwifery profession and maintain the integrity of the examination process," said Mukakarisa. 

Mukakarisa shared the development at the briefing for examination supervisors, coordinators, board members, and other stakeholders regarding the June Unmeb semester examinations. The examinations are being administered at 123 locations nationwide as of June 10. 

Mukakarisa stressed that the tests would be implemented beginning with the December examination series. To make sure applicants are ready and prevent any unintentional non-compliance, she recommended trainers to notify candidates as soon as possible.

"We have already acquired the necessary equipment and software. Starting from the December examinations, students will be expected to submit electronic copies of their reports, which will undergo plagiarism checks before proceeding to assessment," she remarked.

In academic settings, where students are expected to create unique work, plagiarism is a serious infraction. It damages academic institutions' reputations and jeopardizes intellectual integrity. Plagiarism checks are among the many tools used globally to maintain academic integrity and emphasize the value of creating unique material.

There is a troubling tendency in modern academia where a large number of students at institutions of higher learning are not finishing their own homework. Some turn to copying from their colleagues, while still others hire outside firms to help them write their reports.   

In addition to reports, Unmeb is also expressing concern over the integrity of clinical logbooks that students fill during their placements at health units. There are worries that many students may be falsifying these logbooks, raising questions about the authenticity and accuracy of their practical training experiences.

Nurse trainees are required to keep logbooks to record their clinical experiences and learning activities, including patient encounters, procedures performed, medications administered, and other essential information. This serves as a record of their progress and helps their mentors and tutors to assess their competency and proficiency in different nursing skills and tasks among other uses.

The newly appointed Unmeb chairperson, Christine Nimwesiga, emphasized how crucial it is to address this particular issue because clinical logbooks are the main source from which candidates' practical abilities are evaluated. She stresses that principals and nurse mentors need to take the initiative to make sure that each candidate completes their logbook handling obligations.

"If logbooks are forged, it jeopardizes our entire system. This is a critical aspect that demands our utmost protection. Regular inspections of logbooks are essential to eliminate any opportunity for forgery. Additionally, we've received reports of trainers being bribed to sign off on these logbooks, and we cannot allow this to continue unchallenged," she emphasized.

Meanwhile, the June examinations have drawn a total of 52,922 candidates across diploma and certificate levels. Notably, this examination period has been divided into two weeks: the first week for theory, commencing on June 10 and concluding on June 14, and the second week for practicum, scheduled from June 24 to June 28.

A week-long break has been incorporated between the two examination weeks. This break is specifically allocated to accommodate Muslim candidates, allowing them to observe and celebrate Eid al-Adha, which falls on June 16.      

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