Development of neonatal nursing care clinical competency-based assessment tool for Nurse-midwife technicians in CHAM nursing colleges, Malawi
Literature has shown that Malawi is experiencing a shortage of qualified healthcare providers, with the greatest burden on maternal and neonatal health. The majority of health service providers are Nurse-Midwife Technicians (NMT), contributing to 87% of the nursing and midwifery workforce. However, research has shown that the NMTs lack the ability to transfer skills into different clinical settings. It was not known what competencies were taught in Christian Health Association of Malawi colleges to equip the NMTs with clinical competence in neonatal nursing practice and how the clinical teachers assisted these NMTs to acquire the competencies. Furthermore, there was no documentation on the availability of a clinical competency-based assessment tool to validate the NMTs’ achievement of clinical competence in neonatal nursing. The purpose of this study was to develop a neonatal nursing care clinical competency-based assessment tool to validate NMTs’ achievement of clinical competence in CHAM nursing colleges. The competency, outcomes and performance assessment (COPA) model and the skills acquisition model were the conceptual frameworks used as the foundation of the study. The study adopted a sequential mixed method approach in which both qualitative and quantitative methods were utilized. Data collection was conducted using focus group discussions, document review and cross-sectional survey. The design and development model developed by Reeves (2006) and steps to development of assessment tools identified by the Department of Training and Workforce Development (2012) guided the study and development of the competency-based assessment tool. The study was conducted in eight CHAM nursing colleges. The researcher employed purposive, convenient and proportional stratified sampling to select the participants. Ethics clearance was obtained from the University of Western Cape and the National Health Sciences Ethical Research Committee in Malawi, prior to data collection. The data collection involved 31 midwifery clinical teachers and 140 third year students for the FGD and 48 midwifery clinical teachers and 195 third year students for the cross section survey. Document analysis was conducted at all the eight nursing colleges. The qualitative data was analysed using content analysis with Atlas.ti 7 and the quantitative data was analysed using descriptive analysis with SPSS 22. The research findings showed that the NMTs were taught basic nursing skills to enable them provide basic care to the health newborn baby. However, there were inadequate clinical assessments done to validate the NMT’s achievement of clinical competence in this setting. In addition, the clinical teachers used skills checklists to evaluate the NMTs clinical performance on specific procedures. The outcome of this study was the establishment of neonatal nursing clinical competencies, and development of a neonatal nursing care clinical competency-based assessment tool for the validation of NMT’s achievement of clinical competence. The tool provides a framework for neonatal nursing clinical teaching and assessments as well as tracking of the NMT’s clinical performance in this setting. It is recommended that training institutions should reinforce mechanisms to track the students’ clinical experience and performance assessments using this tool to ensure quality student outcomes. Furthermore, the clinical teachers should be oriented on the use of the developed assessment tool for familiarisation; thereby enhancing consistency and objectivity in the students’ performance assessments.