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June 3, 2011

Akwaaba, SickKids!

Karen Breen-Reid and Pat Malloy, Co-Lead Educators for the Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Programme

SickKids International spoke with Patricia Malloy (Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Practitioner, Infectious Diseases) and Karen Breen-Reid (Advanced Nursing Practice Educator, Paediatric Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Infectious Diseases) days before they travelled 9,000 kilometres to help train paediatric nurses in Ghana. The SickKids Global Child Health Program - Paediatric Nursing Training Programme is a three-year joint initiative between SickKids International, the University of Ghana, Ghana Ministry of Health, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

SKI:  You’ll be leaving on May 19 for your second visit to Ghana. How long will you be staying?

Patricia Malloy (PM): I’ll be there for five months. It’s a two-part educational program and I’ll be working on the first part, the clinical management in paediatrics. The second part is the development of nursing leadership skills.

Karen Breen-Reid (KBR): I’ll be in Ghana for two weeks, helping to augment the resources available to the Ghanaian nurses through the development of a nursing skills lab as well as assist with teaching. I’ll be returning in October to facilitate the leadership portion of the education program.

PM: The entire project is phased. In 2010, we both were in Ghana for three weeks to conduct an in-depth needs assessment. We stayed mostly in the south, in Accra, and visited hospitals, clinics and the university. The final day we were able to fly north and visit there.  It’s quite different there, with a more traditional lifestyle and smaller villages. The north is more Muslim, and the south Christian.

The first year, 2011, will involve SickKids personnel training experienced nurses and faculty members in Ghana in a Train-the-Trainer program. In 2012, we’ll be supporting those trainees who were chosen by the Ministry of Health in Ghana, as they begin to teach the curriculum to new nurses and their colleagues and then evaluate in 2013.

KBR: Their goal is to train 1,500 nurses in the next 10 years.  There’s a lot of pressure to succeed.

SKI: What do you think is the main challenge in implementing this program?

PM: I think there are actually a few. For me, one of the primary challenges is that the Ghanaians have been working within their system, which is different from ours, and we are coming in and encouraging changes in behaviour. That can be difficult.

KBR: We want to empower the nurses, to help them find their voices to provide expert opinions with the physicians and family members.

PM: We want to shift the nurses’ loyalty from the doctor to the patient, and to help them create a more collaborative system where the nurses can have a role in decision-making.

KBR: Another challenge has to do with the technological component. The nurses there don’t have the equipment we take for granted for patient care. IV pumps and monitors, for example.

PM: We need to be mindful of the environment in which they practice.

KBR: That’s right – a real emphasis on the five senses. A stethoscope may be the only piece of equipment available and they make do.  But although they may be under-equipped, they are not under-educated. This project is associated with one of the best universities in Africa, the University of Ghana.

PM: And something we always need to remember, no matter where we are, is that we have to try not to judge. That gets in the way.

SKI: How do you think you’ll benefit from this experience?

KBR: The sense of sharing.

PM: And this is a way to engage and interest you in your career. It’s an opportunity to work on a bigger stage.

Malloy and Breen-Reid are the lead educators for the paediatric nurse training program. Both bring international experience – Malloy from her work in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake and in Nepal training monks, and Breen-Reid from her involvement in the SickKids Qatar project.

Many individuals working at SickKids are currently involved with the organization’s international projects - SickKids Foundation welcomes Jarratt Best as the new Public Engagement Officer to increase awareness of the Global Child Health Program. Best will work with nurses like Patricia Malloy and Karen Breen-Reid, and other SickKids International staff to engage the public and promote SickKids’ commitment to sustainable health development in developing countries around the world.

Learn more about the Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Programme.