Our current featured article is title “An Exploratory Descriptive Study on Task Shifting in East Africa,” authored by Lori A. Spies, PhD, RN, NP-C. In this article, Dr. Spies reports the findings of her study that explored the perceptions of nurse leaders in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda who have taken on expanded roles through task shifting – an approach intended to compensate for the significant shortage of providers needed to address the healthcare needs of the populations in this region. While this article is featured you can download it at no cost, then return here and share your comments for discussion! Dr. Spies shared this message about her work for ANS readers:
It is an honor and a pleasure to have my article featured in the ANS blog. My interest in Africa began in 2005 after getting to know an African student with a compelling life story. Shortly thereafter I led a team of family nurse practitioner students for a month long trip to Uganda. The experience led to establishing an international clinical
elective for Baylor University students and to my awareness of the tremendous work being done by nurses in Sub-Saharan Africa. I observed nurses in Uganda called and expected to provide desperately needed care for which they were often not adequately prepared. I became convinced that my biggest contribution to global health, apart from educating students, would be by supporting our global nursing colleagues through research and capacity-building endeavors.
Task shifting, i.e. taking on work typically be done by others, has been informally practiced for years and is a well-established tool to increase access to care. As I delved into the published task shifting literature it became clear to me that the research had almost exclusively focused on the increased number of patients being seen and the quality of care being provided. The nurses’ perspective was absent from the many published studies. The challenges and rewards of the frontline providers of health care were virtually ignored. After a preliminary focus group study in Uganda, also on task shifting, I elected to conduct my dissertation study on the perspective of nurse leaders working in four countries where task shifting was practiced.
I found the insight and words of the nurse leaders fascinating and provocative. The richness of their insights and the commitment to provide good nursing care in challenging environment motivates me to continue research and efforts to support of nurses globally.
The great burden of work that woman assume is not only in the nursing profession but evident in myriad ways throughout sub-Saharan Africa.