AMREF, in a classic public-private partnership with the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK), the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Accenture, the Kenya Medical Training Colleges, several private and faith-based nursing schools and the Ministry of Health Kenya pioneered a country-wide
eLearning programme for upgrading nurses in Kenya.
The programme commenced in September 2005 with a pilot of 4 schools and 145 students and aims to upgrade 22,000 Enrolled Community Health Nurses (KECHN) from ‘enrolled’ to ‘registered’ level within 5 years. Enrolled Nurses (ENs) comprise 70% of nursing and 45% of the health workforce in Kenya. They are the first point of contact for communities, but are inadequately skilled to manage new and re-emerging diseases like HIV/AIDS. This has necessitated their Continuing Professional Development to improve nursing care standards, achieve the health related Millennium Development Goals (4, 5, and 6)and enable them respond effectively to disease diversity and complexity.
Why Electronic Learning?
E-learning was the preferred mode due to its interactivity, cost effectiveness, ease of revision and ability to achieve the goal in less time and at a lower cost than the residential programme. It would also enable continued service provision, instant application of learning and improved quality of care.
E-Learning Schools & Centres
- 32 Medical Training Colleges & Nursing schools participating including AMREF’s Virtual Nursing School.
- Over 100 computer-equipped training centers set up in 8 provinces, including rural, remote and marginalized districts (e.g. Garissa and Dadaab Refugee Camp in the North Eastern Province of Kenya).
- Over 4,000 nurses enrolled on both eLearning and print-based learning modes.
- Over 500 computers installed in training centers.
- Over 192 implementers trained in IT skills.
For Kenya, a country with one registered nurse for every 27,000 citizens, the e-Learning program is revolutionising health-care by creating an electronic infrastructure for the accelerated education
- Flexibility: enables students to learn anytime and anywhere, while they work, with minimal interference with health service provision.
- Interactivity: facilitates nurses’ acquisition of IT skills
- Accessibility: provides access to courses at the student’s schedule, regardless of location, through learning centres that are open 24/7
Programme Structure, Curriculum and Clinical Experience
The ECHN Upgrading curriculum is designed to produce a well rounded nurse who can handle new and re-emerging diseases. It comprises 4 modules: General Nursing, Reproductive Health, Community Health and Specialised Areas. The theory is provided through a blend of scheduled face to face sessions and self-paced computer-based material. In addition, students are required to complete 42 weeks of clinical experience. At the end of the 4 modules, students sit for their college finals and the NCK licensing exams at the end of the programme.
AMREF plans to use the program as a model for other African nations struggling with critical nursing shortages similar to Kenya.