Q & A with Arfang Faye, Senior Nurse and Midwife working in The Gambia
Arfang recently graduated with distinction from the MSc Clinical Education. He chats to us about the impact his studies are having on his ability to teach midwives and nurses, as well as his work with pregnant women and new mothers in The Gambia.
Arfang kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to chat to us about his experience of online learning at the University of Edinburgh. He is a senior registered nurse and midwife with a host of qualifications to his name. He is also the inventor of the EgAr device, a Vacuum Delivery Device made with materials that can be found in low resource settings. You can find out more about his life and work so far via the following link:
Read on to find out more about Arfang's assessment of the MSc Clinical Education and how it has impacted on his career and work.
First off, why don't you tell us a bit about your current job?
I live and work in my country of birth, The Gambia, which has a three-tier healthcare system divided into primary, secondary and tertiary levels. I have been working in Faji Kunda Major Health Centre from January 2018, based on my own request, as I believed it was the best place for me to both work and pursue my studies. Faji Kunda Major Health Centre is a secondary healthcare facility within the urban area close to the capital, Banjul.
I am a senior registered nurse and midwife with a strong background in nurse and midwifery education, and clinical midwifery practice with training in high risk obstetrics in low resource settings. I am also a national trainer in partograph use and emergency obstetric and newborn care for postgraduate midwives. My main duties and responsibilities in Faji Kunda Major Health Centre include providing clinical leadership for midwives in managing difficult labour and deliveries as well as obstetric and newborn emergencies and complications, clinical organisation, mentoring and supervision of more junior midwives, and obstetric ultrasound. Based on my position of seniority and responsibilities, I conduct a lot of formal and informal teaching for both midwifery staff and students on clinical posting to Faji Kunda Major Health Centre.
Why did you choose the MSc Clinical Education?
I have a great passion for teaching and after completion of midwifery training I taught nursing and midwifery in a nurse and midwifery training school in The Gambia, for seven years. I have also participated and led short courses for postgraduate nurses and midwives for several years. However, like the great majority of nurse and midwifery educators in The Gambia, I did not have any formal training in the art and science of clinical education, limiting my ability to effectively plan, design, facilitate and lead teaching and learning activities.
It was my strong believe and conviction that acquiring a masters degree in clinical education would greatly improve my ability to conduct educational activities, participate more meaningfully in the development of educational policy for nurses and midwives, and thus enable me to better contribute to the development of nurse and midwifery education and practice in my country. More generally, acquiring a masters degree would significantly improve my own academic and intellectual skills, and also grant me better access to better paid jobs and promotion.
How practical is the masters degree? Have you used what you have learned on the programme in your day-to-day work?
The MSc Clinical Education programme is very practical, and I have found the content covered in all the modules of the programme of great value in my day-to-day work. A very good example of how what I have learned on the programme has had a major practical impact on myself, my colleagues and clinical services where I work, is my dissertation.
My dissertation was a quality improvement project conducted in Faji Kunda Major Health Centre, with the aim of ‘Improving the Quality of Partograph Use among Midwives’ working in the maternity unit mainly using simulation-based education. The Model for Improvement was used to guide the design and conduct of the project. Important theoretical frameworks that underpinned this project were covered during previous modules on the programme and include: Lewin’s three-step model of change management, democratic leadership, and simulation methodology. The project resulted in major improvements in the quality of partograph use among midwives, with successful implementation of systems and processes intended to improve the quality of labour care.
How do you think this masters degree programme will impact your career?
I believe the MSc Clinical Education programme will have a positive impact on my career. Firstly, undertaking and completing this programme has given me important new academic knowledge and skills, which has developed me both professionally and intellectually.
Secondly, I am much more prepared for the challenges of clinical education in low resource settings such as The Gambia. I have greater confidence in my ability to effectively and successfully plan, design, facilitate and lead educational activities, while being in a much better position to participate and contribute meaningfully in the development of nurse and midwifery education policy.
Thirdly, with this qualification (MSc Clinical Education), I have much better chances for promotion within the health system and nursing/midwifery hierarchy, access to teach at higher institutions of learning (e.g. university), and overall improve my earnings.
Would you recommend online learning to other African healthcare workers, and if so why?
Although online learning presents some challenges particularly for learners living and working in developing countries, I believe there are also many benefits which make it a good alternative to direct learning. From my experience, the online MSc Clinical Education with the University of Edinburgh offered the following advantages and benefits:
- A highly structured and organised programme of study with lectures delivered flexibly using online tutorials, with personal tutors providing opportunities for one-to-one learning
- The programme is also very interactive, facilitating meaningful informal discussions on diverse but relevant issues, topics and subjects among learners and tutors online
- The support services for students such as communication and information services are excellent
- The programme as it is delivered online helps to facilitate development of independent learning and good academic skills
I would strongly recommend the online MSc Clinical Education Programme to my fellow healthcare professionals in Africa.
And finally…what was your favourite aspect of the programme?
This question is difficult for me to answer because I generally enjoyed the programme. However, the most outstanding aspect of the programme in my opinion was the dissertation. Firstly I got the opportunity to plan, design and lead an important quality improvement project from which I learned knowledge and skills vital to improving the quality of care in low-resource settings. Secondly, this exercise enabled me to neatly bring together and utilize at the same time many important theories, principles and strategies of clinical education, in the process helping me to acquire a deeper and richer understanding of the field of clinical education and the ability to effectively put theory into practice.