Commitment to Care: Training Critical Care Nurses in Tanzania

CommunicationsBlog, Nursing, Tanzania, Uncategorized

“We all belong to a large international community of critical care nurses”
Tanzanian Critical Care Nurse

In Tanzania, a country of more than 50 million people, there is a dual burden of high prevalence of infectious disease, such as HIV, and a growing prevalence of non-communicable disease. Additionally, there is a significant, and increasing, burden of critical illness. Strengthening critical care services, in both urban and rural areas, is a priority of the Ministry of Health.

Birgit with colleagues in Tanzania

Nurses in Tanzania provide the majority of care in critical care units and require specialized skills to work within such a clinically complex environment. Progress in pre-service, masters and in-service training in critical care nursing has been made, but there remains a need to strengthen the clinical aspects of training, particularly in-service training, to care for such high acuity patient.

Partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health/Global Health Nursing, Muhimibil University of Science and Technology (MUHAS), and Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Seed Global Health has launched a unique initiative aimed at developing and implementing a sustainable critical care nursing orientation program. The curriculum is based on essential critical care nursing competencies, adapted to local context, that are required for high quality, safe, patient/family centered nursing care in the critical care units at MNH.

To learn more about this innovative initiative, we spoke with Birgit Siceloff, DNP, ANP-C, MPH, a former Volunteer Nursing Educator with GHSP and part of the team leading the project on behalf of Seed.

What have you learned about critical care nursing in Tanzania and MUHAS? How is it similar/different than critical care nursing in the US?

Nurses everywhere have the same issues, we are at the frontline, we spend the most time with the patients and families, and we cannot walk away. The nurses at MNH are very committed. The critical care areas in Tanzania have grown exponentially in the last 10 years, and training and professional growth have not always been able to keep up. Staff training, and building of the cohesive multidisciplinary team are still in the growth phase. The nurses at the bedside have to solve problems all the time with limited resources, they know they are not always adequately prepared, that is ultimately unsatisfactory and create stress.

Why is this project important to you?

I saw and experienced the stress and hard work of the nurses at MNH. I see this as a chance to come back and share knowledge and experience with my Tanzanian colleagues.

If this partnership can support MUHAS as a place where nurses are well trained in critical care, then then these nurses can treat patients in more remote areas and provide care to those that otherwise would go without it.

What do you think will be achieved with this project?

I hope to empower Tanzania nurses to continue the development of critical care in Tanzania. Also share nursing knowledge, and hopefully pass on some tools and tips from my own nursing practice. I learned my craft watching other nurses work. Mentoring and sharing is how we grow.

We hope to develop and implement a comprehensive critical care nursing orientation that is local tailored and sustainable. By providing this orientation and mentorship, we hope to enhance clinical practice and education, and ultimately, improve patient care.

How will this project influence your career after it ends?

Maybe this is not the last time I will participate in a project like this. I so feel blessed to have had this long career in nursing, and there is still so much to learn and do. Working on this makes me proud to be a nurse.