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Building children's nursing

Trained children’s nurses make a difference. They improve child health outcomes. They improve health services. They justify the investment in training. However, children’s nurses still comprise less that 1.3% of all Registered Children’s Nurses in South Africa, a statistic that far outnumbers the percentage in other Sub-Saharan countries.

In South Africa and most other African countries, we have not yet managed to decrease the infant and under-5 mortality rates to meet the Millennium Development Goals by end 2015. Most children, who die in this region, die of preventable and treatable conditions, often before they get to a hospital or within the first 24 hours after arrival. Additional challenges include the increasing chronic disease burden, along with children who stay in hospital for long periods of time.

The core commitment of the Health service is to a Primary Health Care approach and universal access. These are also core values of the training of child nurses – best care delivered at home or as close to that as possible, with hospital stays limited to the shortest possible time and families actively engaged as primary care providers.

The Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative is committed to building children’s nursing in Africa for Africa. As part of this commitment we have designed, developed and offer a suite of unique educational programmes, from within the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. SANC register able programmes are offered in collaboration with the UCT Division of Nursing and Midwifery.

 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 the 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 programmes 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 a 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 our courses 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 our suite of educational programmes in Child Nursing?

  • Developing evidence based knowledge & 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.