Developing a model for integration of core competencies related to HIV and AIDS into undergraduate nursing curriculum at the University of the Western Cape
Modeste, Regis Rugira Marie
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The HIV epidemic is in its third decade, and there is still neither a cure nor an effective vaccine in sight. Although the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths has decreased since the early 2000s, the number of people living with HIV remains high. Sub- Saharan Africa carries the burden of the epidemic, and South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV globally. In South Africa HIV and AIDS is one of the health priorities, and nurses’ role in the fight against HIV infection is crucial, as nurses form the bulk of health care professionals in the country. The South African Government has increased its efforts in the fight against HIV infection, with the introduction of various policies and guidelines. For these policies to be implemented effectively and able to fight the HIV epidemic successfully, nurses’ training needs to provide adequate preparation for nurses to attend to people living with HIV and AIDS upon graduation. The literature highlights various shortfalls in nurses’ training related to HIV and AIDS care and management; in-service training has been the main training model so far, with limited emphasis on pre-service training. The purpose of this study was to develop a model for integration of HIV and AIDS nursing competencies into the undergraduate nursing programme at the University of the Western Cape. The study’s objectives include identification of HIV and AIDS-related core competencies for a nurse in South Africa, then integration of the identified competencies into the undergraduate nursing programme, supported by the Competency, Outcome, Performance, Assessment framework, within a constructivist paradigm. Applying the intervention research: design and development approach, the study was conducted in three phases. Data collection was carried out using nominal group technique, interviews, systematic research synthesis as well as workshops, and data were analysed qualitatively. The 112 participants included nurse educators, people living with HIV and AIDS, registered nurses in clinical practice, recent graduates, South African Nursing Council representatives, lecturers that teach in the nursing programme as well as nurse experts on HIV and AIDS in South Africa, with 12.8% of them participating in more than one phase of the study. Three competency categories covering seven core competencies were identified, namely: foundation (knowledge); supporting pillars (ethics, policies, interdisciplinary approach, personal and professional development); and performance (health education, holistic safe practice). Furthermore, four structural requirements were identified, namely teaching and learning strategies, learning opportunities, service readiness and staff development, forming the HIV and AIDS nursing core competency framework. Vertical and horizontal integration of the core competencies was completed, highlighting how they can be integrated into the undergraduate nursing programme, and this was validated by experts through a workshop. The integration model which was developed is flexible, allowing further adoption into any other undergraduate nursing programme, and provides the potential to assist in the systematic integration of HIV and AIDS into the nursing curriculum. This would enhance new nurse raduates’ competencies in the provision of HIV and AIDS-related care and management upon graduation.