Twelve nurses and midwives from Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu recently completed a two-week workshop in leadership at the University of Technology Sydney as part of a year-long Australia Awards Fellowship awarded to UTS by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Led by the UTS World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHO CC UTS), the Australia Awards Fellowship will allow fellows to develop and implement their own health system strengthening project whilst building their capacity as leaders.
The individual projects are developed with in-country mentors who are members of the South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance (SPCNMOA) in high-level positions in their home countries.
Moralene Capelle, Chief Nursing Officer of Nauru said, "I went through the first program in 2009. In a team, we worked on improving infection control through professional development of nurses, as well as developing a national infection control manual, which didn't previously exist.
"This leadership program was a rewarding experience that opened many doors for me personally, now as Chief Nurse I am a mentor for the new participants coming through."
Michele Rumsey, WHO CC UTS Director explained the importance of having a mentor who is in a position to support change.
"Having participants devise their own action plan with their mentors is a crucial part of the program," she said. "They have first-hand experience of the health issues they face in their home country. We work with them provide them with the best tools and knowledge to tackle these issues."
With the theme Health System Strengthening Nursing and Midwifery Leadership in the South Pacific, the study program focusses on:
- Identifying local health priorities and strategies
- Developing an action plan on personal competence in plan management
- Data analysis and dissemination
- Leadership skills development
- Policy analysis
- Developing a peer support network between Fellows.
The leadership program has far and long reaching effects as the participants are able to facilitate skills-transfer with in-country colleagues, continue to network with regional country counterparts and contribute at the strengthening of health systems in their home countries.
"This leadership program supports the importance of quality health services matched to the needs of local populations for improvements in health outcomes," said Head of the WHO CC UTS and Dean of Faculty of Health at UTS, Professor John Daly.
Since 2009, 103 participants have completed the program at WHO CC UTS, with many of these fellows progressing to positions of greater influence in their countries.