Turning Learning Into Impact: Part 2

Clelia Anna ManninoBlog, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda

The WHO projects that 40 million new health sector jobs will be created by 2030, concentrated in middle- and high-income countries, yet low- and middle- income countries are projected to face a shortage of 18 million health workers by this time

Despite these bleak statistics, the thousands of medical and nursing students, are a reason to remain optimistic.

Since 2013, Seed’s flagship program, the Global Health Service Partnership, has helped train more than 13,700 students in Liberia, Malawi, eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Tanzania, and Uganda. This partnership brings highly-qualified U.S. healthcare volunteers to educate local medical and nursing students over the course of a year through instruction in the classroom and at the bedside.

By teaching local health professionals, entire communities and countries can benefit from the “ripple effect” created when students become more-skilled clinicians and are then better prepared to serve as educators for and alongside their local peers. These optimistic and eager students are the future of health care in the countries where we work.

As part of Seed’s Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning efforts, we gathered feedback from students about their experience with GHSP Physician and Nurse Educators. More than 1,600 surveys were received from medical and nursing students across 81% of our partner sites in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.  Most students surveyed (93%) had worked with GHSP faculty in the past year (2016-2017) and 31% had worked with them for more than one year.  Students also noted the significant amount of interaction with Educators, many of them working with Educators on a daily basis (45%) or 1-2x per week (45%).

Feedback highlighted the high quality of GHSP faculty performance in both the classroom and clinical setting. Specifically, when asked to select the top three ways in which GHSP faculty had helped them, the most common responses included improving clinical skills (68%) and knowledge (60%).

The surveys also captured students’ confidence in taking what they learned in the classroom and using it in the clinical setting (92% reported being extremely or fairly confident) and in advocating for patient care (81% either extremely or fairly confident).

But most importantly, the survey results found that most students planned to stay in their country to work and live (64% indicated extremely likely or likely), to practice nursing or medicine in a clinical setting (87% extremely likely or likely), or to work in medical or nursing education (71% extremely likely or likely). In countries where the retention of medical and nursing professionals is a mounting challenge, these statistics offer hope that the local healthcare workers we teach will go on to save and improve lives, treat patients, and support other providers, exponentially expanding the impact of Seed’s initial investment.