Needs assessment for the development of a problem-based learning programme in paediatric nursing
Given the high mortality rates among children, there is need for the training of Paediatric Nurse Specialists (PNS) to acquire various competencies- creativity, critical and analytic thinking skills, problem solving and professional decision-making skills in order to address complex and varied patients’ problems. The purpose of this study was to undertake a needs assessment of PNS in preparation for the development of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach to promote reflective and analytical thinking skills among PNS. Data were collected from a purposive sample of 70 PNS from urban, semi-urban and rural public hospitals in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Demographic information, performance and importance of PNS activities, PNS competencies, and child health problems were collected through self-administered questionnaires. The participants indicated needs related to PNS in terms of shortage of both human (52.7%) and material (55.6%) resources leading to inadequate equipment such as needles for immunising children and influx of children referred from other peripheral hospitals. The participants also identified various training needs, namely; Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT), Human Immuno-Virus (HIV) management, Tuberculosis (HIV and TB) and Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI). Other skills shortage highlighted were neonatal care and management of malnutrition. The most prevalent health problems identified were malnutrition, HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), TB, pneumonia, gastroenteritis and herbal intoxication. The majority of the participants felt that the attendance in paediatric engagements for updated information is poor (18, 52.9%). The management skills were emphasised by PNS as necessary to effectively run paediatric departments and this was linked to requirements of mentoring and coaching on PNS competency abilities by experienced PNS staff. Dire gaps exist in the competencies, skills and training of PNS in this setting. There is a need for nursing education institutions to develop the competencies and skills of PNS, by embracing PBL teaching and learning methodologies.
Keywords: Needs assessment, Problem Based Learning, Paediatric nurse specialist.