Prior to Covid-19, Zambia had embarked on a programme to develop specialist practice in priority areas. In consequence, specialist nursing is relatively new, however, it has already provided us with opportunities and career development. It is also important to note that while numbers are gradually increasing, currently there are very few specialist nurses in senior leadership positions. Therefore, our development as early emerging leaders is crucial to help embed operational leadership in practice and lay the foundations for us to take on senior roles in the future. In addition, this programme gives us the opportunity to act as role models for our colleagues and peers, enabling them to see how they too can develop their practice and improve care.
The NNCF programme is helping us to learn how to recognise opportunities to develop our practice and to make clinical decisions on our own. We have developed our own network and are working with other nurses from different specialities to explore the similarities and challenges we face. As part of the programme, we have each identified a specific nursing issue for our quality improvement project, areas include:
- Exploring the knowledge of nurses’ working in an Emergency Department, and how they assess and treat pain.
- In critical care, oxygen is frequently given to patients and this project will enhance Registered Nurses’ knowledge and understanding of oxygen therapy.
- Patients with head and neck cancer are at risk of poor nutrition, therefore this project aims to enhance nutritional intake of inpatients as a key element of their treatment process.
- Infection prevention is a key role for all nurses, therefore, this project will focus on theatre nurse’s knowledge in preventing post-operative wound infections.
- All nurses working in acute wards need to be able to effectively respond to emergency situations, therefore, an orientation programme to new staff focusing on resuscitation training is planned.
The key themes for our quality improvement projects are to improve patient care and increase nurse’s knowledge. The projects will have a bonus of maximising the available resources, so that our departments become more effective.
The health partnership between the Lusaka College of Nursing and Birmingham City University has brought us together from different hospitals and specialist areas, which has allowed us to understand different perspectives. We have explored important professional topics including international perspectives, conflict resolution and how we can learn to become more effective operational leaders. We are now four months into the programme, and we are excited to be embarking on our quality improvement projects and feel more confident in our roles. We look forward to showcasing the role of what specialist nurses in Zambia can achieve.
Gift Chifwiko, Emergency and Trauma Nurse, Maina Soko Military Hospital, Zambia
Melody Chisanga, Operating Theatre Nurse, Chipata General Hospital, Zambia
Memory Nalwamba, Operating Theatre Nurse, St Francis Mission Hospital, Zambia
Ruth Khondowe, Critical Care Nurse, Cancer Diseases Hospital, Zambia
Precious Kaleji, Critical Care Nurse, Maina Soko Military Hospital, Zambia
Mwamba Kangwa, Registered Nurse, University Teaching Hospital, Zambia