Nurse training excellence

Posted on 21 May 2019

Mediclinic initially became a registered teaching institution in order to address a shortage of qualified nurses across the country. Today, the hospital group is proud of how its training centres have contributed to expanding the footprint of quality nursing services in SA.

When Mediclinic was faced with a drastic shortage of qualified, competent nursing staff, the company took a proactive approach. Rather than leaving the training and education of these essential hospital personnel to colleges, the hospital group registered as a formal education institution, and began training its own nurses.

That was 34 years ago, says Dr Ann van Zyl, Higher Education and Training Manager: Mediclinic Southern Africa, who oversees all formal education and training initiatives at the company, including nursing, emergency medical care and operating department assistance education and training. Dr Van Zyl has spent 29 years of her working career at Mediclinic, and over 20 of those within the teaching and training environment.

The company has made great strides in uplifting a generation of nurses into their profession, and is able to provide its patients with expert care as a result.

“We started on a small scale, and it was in the late 1990s that our nursing training initiatives really expanded,” says Dr Van Zyl, “when we introduced two new programmes, designed to train enrolled nurses and registered nurses”. By 2008, Mediclinic was registered as a private higher education institution with the Department of Higher Education and Training.”

Up until recently when the Nursing Council started phasing out their previous qualifications, Mediclinic was training approximately 1 000 nurses each year, with an average pass rate of 69-85%. Nursing is a profession that requires a high degree of clinical expertise. A nationwide shortage of expert nursing staff could have a detrimental effect on the quality of healthcare hospitals are able to provide.

Dr Van Zyl says that for some or other reason, it seems that fewer nurses are making it into and out of the formal education and training systems in SA. “There are a lot of factors behind that, but the reason Mediclinic became involved in training nurses is simple: we wanted to ensure we had enough nursing staff to satisfy industry demands.”

Currently, new programmes for auxiliary and general nurses are awaiting accreditation from the South African Nursing Council. “These programmes are aligned with the National Qualifications Framework and have been accredited by the Council on Higher Education and registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training,” says Dr Van Zyl. “The next step is to have them accredited by the SA Nursing Council.”

These programmes include the Higher Certificate in Auxiliary Nursing (NQF Level 5) and Diploma in Nursing (NQF Level 6). Mediclinic also plans to offer a four-year Bachelor degree in nursing and midwifery, as well as the Advanced diploma in midwifery and the Postgraduate degree in nursing.

Mediclinic is accustomed to providing education to over 1 200 trainees each year, and the company now has about 540 nurses-in-training within the education and training system. Once the new programmes are implemented, it is hoped that over 1 500 nurses will qualify each year. Mediclinic employs 42 qualified educators, at training centres situated in Bellville, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Sandton, Polokwane, Nelspruit and Kimberley.

Dr Van Zyl says that when Mediclinic invites prospective nurses into the education system, the student’s study fees are covered by the company, which also provides a monthly stipend, as well as all relevant textbooks and uniforms for students. “We also provide employment – after qualifying, our nurses work back their study period at a hospital within the company.”

In this way, Mediclinic ensures the footprint of nursing staff expands across SA, and that its hospitals are staffed by some of the best nurses in the country.

Enrolled and registered nurses continue to be in high demand, says Dr Van Zyl. “There is always a need for specialist nursing staff in certain disciplines. Operating theatre, critical care, emergency nursing care, paediatrics – these are areas that attract high volumes of well-trained nurses.”

Since 2000, over 9000 nursing students have qualified through the Mediclinic training system, says Dr van Zyl. As of December 2018, 70% of the nurses that have trained through Mediclinic since 2001 still work within the company.

Published in Business