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Fellows complete first palliative care nurse leaders fellowship programme in Uganda

Author: Prof. Julia Downing, Makerere University, Uganda
01 March 2017

January saw the completion of the first palliative care nurse leaders fellowship programme in Uganda. The eighteen month programme consisted of three one-week intensive training modules held in Kampala, in conjunction with ongoing mentorship and supervision.

The programme commenced in August 2016. Twenty nurses were admitted to the programme, following a competitive recruitment procedure targeted at all nurses who had completed ‘specialist’ level training in palliative care.

Six mentor hubs were established alongside five mentors providing longer term in-country mentorship (i.e. 1-3 months). Experts in different aspects of leadership have supported the training, and leaders from different fields from within Uganda have shared their leadership journeys with the fellows.

Module 1 focused on the self as a leader and explored self-awareness, learning styles and conflict management. Tools were used to help fellows become self-aware and identify key areas of leadership skill development that they needed to work on.

Module 2 focused on mentorship, self-care and leadership styles. Different mentorship models were discussed, along with differing models of organic leadership.

During this module, the fellows began to work on national level projects, being divided into teams and setting action plans and budgets.

A follow up day to module 2, held part-way between modules 2 and 3 also enabled them to gain further support for these projects.

Finally, Module 3 focused on influencing regional and national organisations, engaging others, proposal writing and negotiation skills, thus equipping the fellows to expand their leadership to the national and international levels as appropriate.

The nurse fellowship programme was funded through a grant from THET to the University of Edinburgh, Makerere University and the Palliative Care Association of Uganda.

Whilst the fellowship programme was aimed specifically at nurses, the training has been conducted through a multi-disciplinary team. The multi-disciplinarity of palliative care has been stressed throughout, and fellows have been supported in how to lead such teams.

Individual leadership skill action plans were implemented by all of the fellows, with clear examples seen of how the nurses have developed and how – through the change in their skills –the development of palliative care has expanded in their work places.

Local leadership action plans, such as the implementation of the link nurse programme have been implemented and the fellows have completed challenging national level research projects which include a review of training for the nurse prescribers, an evaluation of nurse prescribing, a situational analysis and an evaluation of the link-nurse programme.

Fellows completed the third module in January 2017 and Dr Jacinta Sabiiti from the Ministry of Health presented them with their certificates on the final day.

An evaluation of the programme is currently being undertaken, but initial feedback from participants demonstrates great leadership development as well as on-going development in palliative care.

Videos of some of the nurse fellows talking about the programme can be found on the Global Health Academy website

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