UCU nursing students are blessing to government hospitals
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/05/ucu-nursing-students-are-blessing-to-government-hospitals/
By Douglas Olum
When Ruth Nakanwagi woke up the morning of Wednesday, March 13, her two-year-old son, Rogers, was shaking with fever at a very high temperature and vomiting. She knew that the child needed emergency healthcare. But she did not have enough money to rush him to a private clinic where she expected faster treatment.
Nakanwagi, a fruit vendor in Nakawa, a Kampala city suburb, painfully took her child to Naguru Referral Hospital, a government facility located about six kilometers (3.7 miles) east of the city centre, with little hope that the child would get medication in time.
“I tried to borrow money from my neighbors and friends so that I could take the child to a clinic but I failed. I didn’t want to bring him here because I thought I would find a long line and reluctant workers who would not quickly attend to the child but I was surprised by how they attended to him so fast,” Nakanwagi said, smiling vaguely.
The hospital, housed in two, long, double-stair buildings, indeed had patients lined up on benches, both at the children’s and adult sides of the Outpatient Department (OPD), waiting to be served. Others were at various locations, awaiting other medical procedures such as X-rays, CT scans or antenatal check-ups.
Those already served were either exiting the gate or seeking refuge from the scorching sunshine under trees in the hospital compound. And Nakanwagi and her son were part of those leaving, just about two hours after their arrival time.
Rogers was diagnosed with malaria, one of the leading killer diseases in Uganda. And their shocking good experience was because that morning, second-year Bachelor of Nursing Science students from Uganda Christian University (UCU) were at the same hospital for their practical training. The students had quickly assessed the child’s condition and facilitated the treatment processes.
Across the OPD, Children’s, Medical, Antenatal and Surgical Wards, the students, donned in white coats with the UCU logo printed on the upper left, were taking history, counseling and administering drugs to patients. Others were in the theatre, helping with surgical processes.
Human resource shortage remains a huge challenge in Uganda’s government hospitals. With a nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:11,000 (International Council of Nurses, 2013 report), the situation is further worsened by absenteeism and negative attitude towards work among the personnel who are poorly paid. Consequently, Ugandans who can afford it, turn to private healthcare service providers who charge them exorbitantly.
But with the interventions by trainees from UCU, the story is changing in some government hospitals like Naguru.
Aidah Balamaga Nabiryo, a Senior Nursing Officer in charge of the Medical Ward at Naguru Hospital, said while the number of patients often overwhelms them, the learning visits by the UCU nursing students come as a blessing to them because they not only reduce their workloads but also speed up their service delivery.
“We have a big human resource gap here.” Nabiryo said. “For instance, in the whole of this Medical Ward, we are only two established staff members and we get overwhelmed by the tasks. But when these students come, they relieve us because they are very hardworking and also very good in nursing processes like injections, psycho-social support, cleaning of patients and identifying those in need.”
She said unlike students from other universities and nursing schools that go for similar trainings when they don’t know what to do, UCU students are very well prepared and they know exactly what to do under nearly every circumstance.
“When they don’t know something, they inquire and shortly afterwards, you find them doing it very well. Apart from their medical skills, we even tap into their computer skills that help us in report writing and presentations,” Nabiryo added.
Every week, different groups of the students are taken for practical trainings for at least four out of the five working days in various government hospitals including Naguru, Kawolo and Butabika Mental Hospital. They participate in collaborative health care service provision with the hospital personnel and their lecturers.
During those processes, they are exposed to medical, surgical and child health care procedures.
Irene Nagadya, one of their lecturers, said such exposures help the students integrate the theories they learn in class with practical in the field.
“We show them how to do and also allow them practice investigations, insertion of tubes and other basic and specific nursing care skills. Through these, we are build professionalism that will result into competent health workers,” Nagadya said.
While such hospitals are just training grounds for the students, their services cannot be taken for granted considering the huge gaps that they fill. It is therefore, no doubt that, their release into the health sector will not only save many lives like Rogers’, but also speed-up and improve the quality of service delivering in Uganda’s hospitals.
If you are interested in supporting UCU school of nursing students and their training or other programs and services at UCU, contact UCU Partners’ Executive Director Mark Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on the Donate button on the Partners Web site.
- Uganda Christian University, Uganda Partners, nursing, hospitals, medicine