Patience Adzika Nsatimba
Masters of Public Health, 2013
This story forms part of the 2017 Outcomes Study. Alumni were selected to share their Most Significant Change as a result of the Australia Awards program.
I am an Australia Awards Alumnus, having completed a Masters of Public Health. Through my studies in Australia, I gained exposure to better health care service practices, including Health Promotion Planning, Health Policy, and International Health.
When I returned to Ghana at the end of my studies, I was assigned to manage the psychiatric Out Patient Department (OPD) – this is an emergency unit, the first point of contact for our clients at Pantang Hospital. When I joined the department, there were no guidelines, and things were not in a consistent or pro-active way. I could exercise in-depth critical thinking and analytical skills that I developed while on-award to commence a process to rectify poor planning and service delivery in the OPD. I organised a unit meeting and shared my plans with staff about how we would improve our service delivery as a unit. Some staff members were in favour; others were not, thinking that would mean more work for them. I also submitted my proposal to the Deputy Director of Nursing Services and Deputy Director in charge of OPDs.
The proposal consisted of a mission and vision for the unit, activities that will enable the department to achieve the unit’s mission. It also established working committees, monthly clinical conferences, the development of standard operating procedures, and quarterly unit meetings. As a first step, I liaised with staff and finalised the mission and vision statement for the unit; with the Mission being: To provide high quality and prompt client care, and the Vision: To become a well-resourced department proficient to provide high-quality psychiatric care in the most efficient and effective manner.
I ensured that we developed activities that would help us achieve these goals. I organised staff into six working committees with each committee playing a specific role and all reporting back to the management committee. We developed several protocols tailored towards the duties of the unit. These activities have improved staff self-confidence in carrying out their duties. Staff members were also given topics to prepare and present during our monthly clinical conferences. The unit now has monthly unit meetings where we discuss our achievements and challenges; we forward issues that the department cannot resolve to the Hospital Management for resolution. At the end of 2016, I was impressed by staff work and we organised a get-together and award system to identify the best performing team member for categories such as best nurse, best working committee, and best clinical presentation.
Since implementing systems for effective and efficient management for the unit, the attitude of staff towards work has changed positively. We all work in a therapeutic environment; doctors and all other stakeholders are happy with our work and, most of all, our clients are very confident and comfortable with our services. My Australia Award has empowered me in the delivery of healthcare services to my clients. I have become an effective and efficient Unit Manager and a better leader. I am also the Chairperson of Quality Assurance Committee. I am very grateful to the Australian Awards – Africa for empowering me to bring such as significant change in my workplace.