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Educating Children's Nurses at UCT

Nurses are the mainstay of care for hospitalised children in Africa’s health services. While strengthening preventative and primary health care interventions remains key in decreasing Under-5 mortality, 10-20% of children are too sick to be managed at clinic level and will be referred to secondary and tertiary facilities where nurses are sometimes the only cadre of professional staff. Being cared for by an appropriately trained children’s nurse with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to deliver high-quality evidence-based care is key to improving outcomes for sick and injured children in hospital.

By the end of 2018 there will be approximately 4 000 children’s nurses in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. The majority (8/10) are in South Africa. Although this remains far short of the numbers needed, there is encouraging evidence that training activity has grown steadily in the ten years since CNPDI was established, with around 700 children’s nurses being produced through training across these countries every year. Six new children’s nursing training programmes have been established since 2006. In addition, CNPDI’s research has shown that national governments in the countries that we partner with are prioritising child health and are committed to building the specialist nursing workforce.

The Children’s Nursing Programmes available at UCT, offered by the Division of Nursing & Midwifery in collaboration with the Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative are as follows:

Our teaching ethos

We believe that the best educational outcomes are achieved when there is a good match between what nurses are taught and the work they do in practice – a minimal theory-practice gap. With this in mind, we design our educational content in partnership with health service planners and employers, and in consideration of global and national health policies and programmes, and emerging evidence. This ensures that programmes are locally relevant, and informed by current child health profiles, systems and resources.

Innovative teaching and assessment methods are used to stimulate critical thinking and learning, as well as to facilitate personal and professional growth. Formal lectures are taught by both a core team of expert nurse clinician educators, and by invited external speakers from both nursing and other professional paediatric disciplines.

We believe that each registered nurse on our UCT courses is an able and contributing adult learner, who wants to learn and improve their own practice. A concurrent wellness programme enables students to maintain their own health, establish a strong peer support systems and maximise their ability to learn.  A strengths-based approach assists students to increasingly work with themselves, peers and others in this way. The approach, based in positive psychology, holds that every person has an inherent set of strengths that enable them to relate, learn, think and lead in very specific ways.

This, in conjunction with other leadership development activities, ensures that nurses graduating from these courses at UCT are ready to play their part in leading and transforming health care for children in their clinical setting and region.

What can students expect from the UCT postgraduate children’s nursing courses?

  • Developing evidence based knowledge and skills, applicable to local clinical settings
  • Innovative teaching and learning approaches
  • Learning participative methods of continual and rigorous practice improvement
  • Stimulating collegial conversations and the development of a community of peers
  • The challenge to increase critical thinking and clinical reasoning
  • A strengths-based approach to teaching, learning and professional growth
  • On-going educational support
  • Continued contact and support in a growing alumni network and community of child nursing after graduating
  • The challenge to continually ‘raise the bar’ and achieve personal best while committed to best outcomes for children and families

A note about the challenge of studying and moving away from home

We love welcoming nurses to Cape Town to learn with us, however, we know that committing to study away from home can be a difficult choice. Our dedicated team of nurse educators and administrators are therefore on hand to provide support and advice starting from the moment you apply, through your move and for the duration of your studies at UCT. We also have a dedicated ‘away-from-home mother’ who is available for to support, encourage and offer advice when needed.