Supporting Sustainable High Quality Anesthesia Education and Care In Liberia

“Being here is so inspiring. We are exposed to so much. We are learning how we can better plan and organize our teaching, and how to achieve more positive outcomes with our students.”- Mr. Wilmot Fassah RNA BS Nurse Anesthesia Program Director, Phebe, Liberia.

In 2016 the NEU School of Nursing joined an academic/clinical partnership that included Phebe Hospital School of Nurse Anesthesia in Liberia, Seed Global Health, and Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) aimed at supporting sustainable high quality anesthesia education and care in Liberia. Following a full year of in country engagement by Mary O’Sullivan, DNP CRNA, Affiliate Associate Professor in SON and GHSP, with Seed support, and consultation with Janet Dewan PhD CRNA, nurse anesthesia faculty, the Phebe nurse anesthesia curriculum was revised to meet international standards. When progress toward goals was assessed, educator development was identified as an important unmet need, which was difficult to accomplish in the resource limited local setting. The partners agreed that senior Liberian faculty could benefit from an intense immersion experience focused on nurse anesthesia education and best clinical practices at a well run nurse anesthesia program. At that point Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) joined the effort as the clinical partner.

With support from all entities the team implemented a 4-week immersion at NEU and BIDMC during January 2018. Phebe administration selected Mr. Wilmot Fassah and Mr. Aaron Sonah, Anesthesia Program Director and Assistant Director, to travel to Boston for the intensive educator course. Janet Dewan, Bouvé faculty in the nurse anesthesia program, hosted the visiting scholars at NEU. Mary O’Sullivan contributed context specific competency based focus to the on site university immersion.

Progressive, defined objectives shaped each of the four-week’s experiences starting with an introduction to nurse anesthesia pedagogy for a program integrated at a school of health sciences. Specific educator experiences included exposure to classroom and simulation techniques, followed by practice with structured simulation and skills lab activities for developing technical and non-technical aspects of nurse anesthesia practice. The learning structure supported the revised Phebe competency based curriculum. Administration requirements for a complex didactic and clinical advanced nursing education program became an important focus, with mentored policy development and participation at nurse anesthesia and School of Nursing formal and informal meetings. BIDMC provided the venue for exposure to clinical conferences and best practices for nurse anesthetists working in a US teaching hospital.

Bouvé and nursing faculty, along with anesthesia department members at BIDMC, welcomed the Phebe faculty and integrated them into campus and clinical proceedings. Their immersion required active involvement as recognized visiting scholars, including participation in, and reflection on, all activities. In addition to the formal on campus schedule, a guided history tour of the Etherdome at MGH, site of the first public demonstration of surgical anesthesia, Basic Life Support (BLS) certification and attendance at a state level nurse anesthesia conference rounded out the immersion in nurse anesthesia professional development.

Their busy month culminated with delivering a formal class lecture describing anesthesia education and practice in Liberia delivered to NEU advanced nurse anesthesia students, and a capstone presentation of the long-term project at SEED headquarters. The team, NEU, SEED and BIDMC, jointly awarded a Certificate in Advanced Nurse Anesthesia Education to Mr. Sonah and Mr. Fassah. Their successful immersion in an established nurse anesthesia education program supports the team’s plans to continue active engagement in the enhancement of the quantity and quality of anesthetists who deliver care in Liberia.

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