23 February 2018
Project: Utilising a ‘training the trainers’ approach to develop teaching skills of Malawian educators and nurses.
Partners: University of East Anglia and Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM)
When: February 2012 – January 2014
At the time of implementation (2012) there were very few nurse educators who were equipped with teaching skills and there no institutions that deliver teaching programmes in Malawi. This meant that nurse educators who needed to develop these skills often had to go abroad to access a suitable course.
Teaching skills are not only important for the effective delivery of education in the classroom, but to also mentor student nurses whilst they are on placements. There is evidence that demonstrates that when experienced nursing staff engage with students in the clinical environment, it positively impacts on the quality of care delivered. At the time, there were no clinical staff with the skills to mentor student nurses and it was the nurse educators who undertook this role. This was not effective as it took the educators away from classroom activities and from developing curricula to provide continuous professional development for registered nurses that would enable them to provide contemporary and knowledge-based nursing care.
The need for developing teaching and mentorship skills was vital as there were approximately 20 CHAM hospitals with between 30-50 nurses in each and 10 schools of nursing, with between 11-15 nurse educators supporting about 250 student nurses in each School.
This project aimed to provide a training the trainers programme who could then cascade their learning and skills to a wider audience. This approach of ‘pump-priming’ to develop a core group of lecturers would ensure that the development of nurse educators and mentors is sustained after the proposed project concludes. The Project aimed to contribute to the quality assurance policies in Malawi to enhance the quality of nursing education which could then translate to more effective nursing care being provided.
Who has benefitted and what has been learned
This project was primarily about training trainers both for those in education institutions and those on hospital wards. The partnership trained clinical teachers and tutors at Ekwendeni College of Health Sciences and CHAM Schools in teaching clinical education. They trained nurses at College hospitals and CHAM hospitals in providing mentorship to student nurses. For those colleges not in the northern district, the partnership created a training pack to be rolled out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Activities and the role of nurses
The training programme was rolled out to the Northern District of Malawi, involving 7 hospitals and the Nursing & Midwifery Council has introduced mentorship as a standard for pre-registration nurse training i.e. the new standards require all student nurses on clinical placements to have a mentor. This is as a result of the partnership’s engagement at policy and decision-making level.
In total, 105 nurses were trained and have gone on to provide further training to colleagues.
Looking to the future
Whilst there are still significant gains to be made in the field of nursing in Malawi. In 2017, public hospitals through the country reported that 65% of nursing positions were vacant. Partnerships such as this one and the priority status give to Malawi by DFID in their international development work provides much to be positive about for the future developments of the countries health sector.