Upskilling nursing students and nurse practitioners to initiate and manage patients on ART: An outcome evaluation of the UKZN NIMART course
Background. Currently, there is a need in South Africa to implement strategies to upskill nurses in the clinical management of HIV and AIDS, for effective and efficient management of people living with HIV. One such strategy is the nurse-initiated management of antiretroviral therapy (NIMART) course.
Objectives. To evaluate the effectiveness of the NIMART course in increasing the knowledge of trainees in select clinical competencies, to assess whether perceived knowledge gain varied according to individual-level characteristics of trainees, and to determine trainee perceptions of the value and delivery of the course.
Methods. A 5-day training course focusing on various areas of HIV was developed and delivered by experts in the field of HIV to multiple cohorts of fourth-year nursing students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and to post-basic nursing practitioners, over a 5-year period. A single-group pre- and post-quasi-experimental design was used to assess knowledge change and perceptions about the course among 1 369 trainees who had benefitted from the course during the implementation period.
Results. Post-workshop test scores were significantly higher than pre-workshop scores (p<0.0001), based on both pooled and cohort-specific data. For pooled analysis, the pre-test median score was 67% (interquartile range (IQR) = 60% - 73%) and the post-test median score was 77% (IQR = 70% - 80%), with p<0.0001. The knowledge gain was the highest in respect of HIV prevention, followed by prevention of mother-to-child transmission, then HIV treatment and lastly, general knowledge of HIV. The vast majority were very satisfied with the content of the training, although 31.3% strongly disagreed
that they were ready to apply the knowledge they had learned in their workplace.
Conclusion. The training was generally well received, and improved the knowledge of participants in HIV and its management. However, this outcome represents short-term benefits of the programme, and there is a need for on-the-job mentorship and support in order to maximise on clinical outcomes related to HIV.