The Breast Course for Nurses: who we are and what we have done over the last 12 months
We have run several courses over the last 12 months:
Cape Town, South Africa – 15 nurses trained
Lilongwe, Malawi – 26 nurses trained
Windhoek, Namibia – 30 nurses trained
Ongwediva, Namibia – 30 nurses trained
Harare, Zimbabwe – 257 health care providers trained
Johannesburg, South Africa – 42 nurses trained
The course is constantly evolving and I want to highlight some of the new changes we have made this year.
The major challenge we have addressed is allowing the course to run independently.
I have learnt a lot about teaching through the whole process. The course was set up along the principles of the flipped class technique.
Unlike teaching at school, the participants on the courses are very varied and most are experts in their own areas. We were constantly faced with the challenge of having large numbers of health care workers with vastly differing levels of knowledge about breast cancer and differing needs from the course. In Zimbabwe, we were asked to extend the training to include doctors. We met the challenge by dividing the 2 day course into 3 day long modules:
Module 1 was capped at 80 students and aimed at primary health care workers, breast cancer advocates and registered nurses.
Module 2 was capped at 50 participants and was aimed at registered nurses from the clinics, oncology sisters and doctors.
Module 3 was capped at 30 participants and was aimed at oncology sisters and doctors. It allowed us to teach biopsy techniques.
We were also asked to have a “train the trainers” day. In many ways, the request ran against our aim to equip nurses to be self sufficient in their learning. (The principle behind PEP is that health care workers should educate themselves with the material provided.) Nevertheless, we blended the 2 approaches and Prof Woods and I ran a day in which we looked at different teaching modalities and tried to apply them to the course. We defined “teaching” as the “sharing of understanding”
The result was that Module 1 of the Breast Course for Nurses was entirely taught by the nurses who attended the train the trainer’s day and studied the book (Breast Care). I was immensely proud!
In Johannesburg, we took a different approach to deal with the challenge. The course was run at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital by Dr Sarah Nietz and her team. I wasn’t there at all. I understand that 45 nurses completed the course. The faculty were entirely local.
Many thanks to everyone who has been involved with the Breast Course for Nurses. If you wish to become involved, run a course or know more, please contact us.
Dr Jenny Edge, Founder and director of Breast Course for Nurses (PBO No.: 930050375)