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First nurse anesthesia bachelor’s degree program in Africa: A First in the continent
Abstract Number: S 70
Abstract Type: Case Report/Case Series
Introduction: Majority of anesthesia in Africa is delivered by non-physicians. There is acute shortage of trained anesthesia personnel in Ghana. About 500 nurse anesthetists provide over 88% of anesthesia. Only diploma degrees are offered. The lack of career progression within the nurse anesthesia specialty compels many nurse anesthetists to leave the specialty to attain higher degrees in other subjects. The government however only recognizes higher qualifications within the same primary specialty. This lack of career progress contributes to the lack of new recruits. It is imperative that higher degrees are available to nurses delivering anesthesia care to develop the specialty and improve quality.
Methods: A curriculum was approved by the University for Development Studies School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Tamale, Ghana, and supported by the Ghana Anaesthetist Society, Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Tamale Teaching Hospital. Diploma curriculums were upgraded by introduction of advanced anesthesia principles, leadership training, research methodology studies, statistics, and managerial principles. Admission qualifications included diploma in nursing with a minimum of 3 years post-registration working experience; bachelor of nursing degree with 2 years’ post-registration working experience or advance diploma in nurses anaesthesia with 2 years working experience. The degree program is 3 years for registered general nurses and 2 years for already qualified nurse anaesthetists.
Results: 12 nurse anesthetists with diplomas and 11 registered nurses were admitted for the two and three year program respectively. With one local consultant anesthesiologist, external faculty are obtained to deliver various lectures. Duke University anesthesia / nurse anesthesia faculty (working through Kybele®) have received formal recognized faculty positions within the local university to compliment the teaching faculty base. Other international faculty have also provided lectures on volunteer basis.
Conclusions: Local and International educational interest groups have recognized the need for higher degrees in nurse anesthesia in Ghana. The prestige of a career path is a positive step in ensuring the best educated practitioners remain in the profession. International educational partners should see the potential benefit in supporting these educational ventures to support the few teaching faculty base in low resource countries.