Semester assessments for nurses and midwives will be the new norm

Continuation of part 1. It would be benefitial to first read part 1

As part of the on-going reforms highlighted in Mrs Kataha’s speech, unmeb has embarked on a semester-based system of assessing nurses and midwives, in sharp contrast to what has been the practice – 12monthly reviews or promotional system of assessing trainees.

According to the old assessment system, a student would only advance to the next level of training after satisfactorily passing the promotional exams set by the Board [unmeb].

With the new assessment system, trainees are to be examinined by the body every 6months or per semester.

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Mrs Kataha believes the new assessment regime will “increase trust and transparency to all interested parties.” Further adding that “the public needs to know of such initiatives that add to their confidence in the quality of training and assessment of those entrusted to offer health services.”

Benefits of the 6month assessment
The new semester-based (6monthly) assessment system, unmeb contends, will allow it issue full transcripts to successful candidates as opposed to the current pass slips issued. Presently, a time-lag exists before being issued a transcript.

According to unmeb, the transcript “will provide details of a candidate’s progressive and final scores upon graduation.” The unmeb intends to issue transcripts beginning with the November 2017 intake as this lot will have been fully assessed under the semester based system. The group will also be it’s pilot group.

Re-design of IT infrastructure
This transition to a semester based system has compelled the Board to re-design it’s IT systems.

The re-design is to allow “inclusion of models and formulae that facilitate capturing of the 40% progressive assessment scores generated from clinical assessment tools and continuous assessment activities.”

Provisions will be created inorder to include new subject paper combinations as well as monitor enrollment and drop-out rates.

Registration dates impacted
The transition has seen a change in the registration dates for unmeb’s exams.

For the June semester exams, registration is done now 1st February to 2nd March while research submissions for the same are done 18th March to 18th April.
December semester exams‘ registration is between 1st August and 2nd September with research submissions being done 18th August to 18th September.

These and many other reforms to come are part of the new Competence based nursing curricula that the education minister said had “been commissioned and made ready for disbursement to all training institutions for immediate adoption.”

Training institutions are to implement the curricula and observe it’s guidelines. This comes with a new school calender which wants students spending 75% of their time in practicum sites inorder to acquire competencies before completing training. The unmeb is to enforce it’s implementation.

Universities stand warned
Nursing and midwifery students enrolled for certificate or diploma programes at Universities are to be subjected to exams conducted by the nurses and midwives board.

This, Mrs Kataha says is a “means of ensuring uniformity in the assesment of competences acquired by students at the same level.” A stark warning was also issued to Universities that had intentions of not complying. There fate being that “their certificates/diplomas will not be recognized by the National council for higher education.”

Broader context of reforms
These reforms are not limited to the nursing and midwifery profession. Their’s a wider sectoral context to it.

Mrs Kataha says the reforms are needed and are geared towards solving the skills mismatches with employment needs.

She notes that her sector faces the enormous challenge of: (1)“including the school drop outs into the mainstream by providing them with quality vocational training for gainful employment,” and (2) improving the current curriculum to match industrial requirements.

In conclusion
The reforms initiated by Mrs Kataha are noble and in her words: “a step in the right direction.” However, as she equally notes, the “limited resource basket and the widespread need” in other govt departments, she may not be able to fully implement the full length and breadth of her vision. But one thing is certain, the nursing and midwifery profession is changing under her watch.

Provisions will be created inorder to include new subject paper combinations as well as monitor enrollment and drop-out rates.