Increasing Patient Safety in Africa: Training Nurses in Post-Operative Care

Nurses at Smile Train partner Gertrude's Children's hospital in Kenya utilizing their new training

Nurses at Smile Train partner Gertude’s Children’s Hospital in Kenya, implement the skills they learned in the post-operative care training course

Kampala, Uganda — At Smile Train, patient safety is our number one priority. With this in mind, Dr. Sarah Hodges, an anesthesiologist, and Rona Breese, a registered nurse, sought to improve the care Smile Train patients receive in the recovery ward, which is as important as the care a patient receives on the operating table. Both women are UK-transplants who now live and work full time in Uganda and worked at Smile Train partner hospital CoRSU for many years. Together, they developed a training program to improve the safety and effectiveness of post-operative nursing care for children.

This innovative, three-day training course combines lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, and scenario-based activities. Among the topics included in the training are post-operative care following cleft surgery, post-operative complications, monitoring vital signs, and pediatric basic life support.

Since its launch in November 2011, the course has been delivered to eight groups of participants in six countries throughout Africa. The participants are comprised of one to two nurses from each Smile Train hospital in the country where the training is held. Upon completion, the nurses return to their hospitals and teach the material to their colleagues. Over 165 nurses have completed the program, all of whom are female.

Throughout the course we as trainers emphasize the importance of the role of the nurse and the value that we and Smile Train places upon nurses. We recognize the difficulties that they face in the workplace and poor recognition of the nursing profession. We aim to teach them in a way that recognizes their knowledge and experiences and we try to instill self-belief and purpose in what they do. Nurses need to believe that they can make a difference by what they do and we repeatedly emphasize this. This philosophy underpins the training and we feel that this is an important element of the training that should be retained.

“We are confident that those nurses who complete the training will leave with increased understanding and competence in cleft care, we hope they will share this with their colleagues.”

In just three days, nurses who complete the course show an average improvement of 54% between pre- and post-course evaluations.

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