“I am seeing where I fit into the picture”: Five future doctors receive orientation to the world of paediatric nursing.

11 Aug 2015 - 14:15
I am seeing where I fit

The Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative was privileged to host five students from mid-July to the first week of August this year for a Short Study Module (SSM) orientating them to the world of paediatric nursing in Africa and the concepts of Zero Separation and Family Focussed Care (FFC). Denisa Asamoah-Bekoe, Hlonipho Sarila, Zoluntu Mpantsha, Michaela Levy and Rolihlahla Ndlovu were based with the Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH) for the duration of the SSM.

Each year, the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences offers a range of Short Study Modules for second year Medical Students. The course’s convenor, Stephanie Sieberhagen, designed a four week module that encompassed basic learning about African healthcare, paediatric nursing in Africa, the work of the Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative and principles of FFC.  According to Sieberhagen, the five, young doctors-in-the-making grabbed the learning opportunity with both hands and relished, especially, their exposure to paediatric ward rounds at both the RCWMCH (as facilitated by nurse educators Hillary Barlow, Inger Hendry and the rest of the Initiative’s teaching team) and Victoria Hospital (with Dr Gill Schermbrucker, the Head of Department of Paediatrics at Victoria Hospital, as their guide). Students further appreciated guided tours of the RCWMCH and the paediatric unit at Victoria Hospital, by practice development nurse Angela Leonard, as well as an introduction to the Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative, by Natasha North. 

An additional highlight for students included the opportunity to learn Graphic Harvesting (GH) techniques from practice development nurse, Candice Bonaconsa. Bonaconsa spent time teaching students the skills and processes that she and colleague, Leonard, had acquired from attending a GH Workshop for Beginners (run by local Graphic Facilitators, Sonja Niederhumer and Jo Hobson[1]) and a Visual Facilitation Advanced Process Workshop, hosted by a Berlin-based Graphic Recorder, Benjamin Felis[2]. Students used these GH methods during focussed group times with Bonaconsa to identify and problem-solve issues at various healthcare facilities in Africa, and had opportunity to use what they had read and learned during the SSM to design their own graphic harvest of how a paediatric health care unit could look in Africa. This unit was designed to encompass all the individuals in and structural elements of a functional paediatric unit. A pathway of care through the hospital and the challenges and goals of nursing in the African context were also included. 

Associate Professor Minette Coetzee’s input from a research priority setting conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Leonard’s ‘pathway to care’ presentation from her CURE Children’s Hospital experience in Uganda, and Sr Jane Booth’s presentation of the Breatheasy Programme at the RCWMCH were other highlights. 

The students were required to blog about their experiences and had the following to share:

“The nurses were quite friendly and actually seemed like they were enjoying their job which was so refreshing!! This has COMPLETELY changed the way that I view and think about nurses.”

“I’m having such a great time during this SSM. It definitely is a lot more work when compared to the other SSMs. But I think that it’s worth it. We’re learning sooooooo much and it’s definitely changing my mindset when it comes to healthcare provision and the state of African healthcare.”

“What I found exciting was witnessing family focused care within the ward. Seeing the mothers next to their babies’ cots reminded me of the sacrifices parents do for us. They would literally catch grenades for us!”

“I have enjoyed this week thoroughly, possibly because there was a lot less reading and writing involved but also because I feel as though I am seeing where I fit into the picture. I see my place in African healthcare in the future.”

“This week keeps getting better and better.”

“I think I was in grade 9 when I first read about Red Cross Children’s Hospital. As a result of that article I fell in love with the hospital, but it never crossed my mind that one day I will be there.”

According to North the SSM has been “invaluable in guiding these young professionals towards strong, future doctor-nurse relationships and in spreading the word about the small Initiative with the big heart (and vision!) for African paediatric health.”



[1] See

[2] See