New Family Planning Materials for Pre-Service Educators: A Big Step Forward for Women & Girls

Juliet Zawedde

Kibuli School of Nursing

Juliet Zawedde, a reproductive health teacher with Kibuli School of Nursing in Uganda, blogs about her use of a new suite of materials developed by Pathfinder International’s Evidence to Action Project. The materials have been used during pre-service education to improve the capacity of up-and-coming members of Uganda's family planning health workforce.

Portrait of Juliet Zawedde

Juliet Zawedde has been a reproductive health teacher for more than 30 years.

Over the 13 years that Uganda’s Kibuli School of Nursing has had a nursing and midwifery program, the number of graduating students has steadily increased. The first 19 students graduated in 2007. Last year, 120 new nurses and midwives received diplomas or certificates from Kibuli. The exponential growth in nurses and midwives entering the health workforce at Kibuli and schools throughout the African continent presents a great opportunity to increase the reach and impact of family planning providers.

To reach their ultimate potential as a family planning health workforce, however, students need adequate training during pre-service education that will allow them to become high-performing nurses and midwives. They need to be given the chance to acquire the skills necessary to offer their clients individualized, voluntary family planning counseling and full contraceptive method choice. 

Practical materials, great potential

In April 2018, The Evidence to Action Project (E2A) developed a new tool—packaged as a suite of practical teaching materials—that can support nursing and midwifery programs to graduate nurses and midwives as strong family planning providers. The Training Resource Package for Pre-Service Education in Family Planning and Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health ("TRP for PSE in FP/AYSRH" for short), contains curriculum components to design, implement, and evaluate pre-service training. It offers essential, up-to-date resources for family planning and reproductive health instructors, like me; Ministries of Health and Education; and Directors of Schools of Nursing and Midwifery. The inclusive materials guide educators to actively involve students in the learning process through competency-based training methods, like role-plays.

The story behind the new Training Resource Package for Pre-Service Education

E2A developed the TRP for PSE in FP/AYSRH based on experience helping educators—along with representatives of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council and Nursing and Midwifery Examination Board, Ministries of Health and Education, and the East, Southern, and Central Africa Health Community—to adapt materials from the original Training Resource Package for Family Planning (TRP). The adaptation contextualized the original TRP materials, first launched in 2012, to Uganda’s needs. The adapted TRP materials can be taught within the 40 hours allotted to the pre-service reproductive health course unit and are aligned with national standards.

During two workshops in 2016, the E2A Project guided us to examine the reproductive health course unit curricula critically and examine where global, evidence-based practices and standards could better be incorporated. We were then supported to develop a handy trainer’s reference guide. The guide includes session plans reflecting the updated course content. It also includes helpful materials like guidance on using competency-based training methods and skills checklists.

The adapted materials have helped me to be a more effective reproductive health trainer. My favorite elements of the adapted materials are:

  • Pre-established lesson plans and handouts that ensure uniformity in what is taught
  • Easy-to-use role-plays, particularly for family planning counseling skills
  • Simple flash cards, especially helpful for community settings
  • Incorporation of information on post-abortion care and sexual and gender-based violence

The former, pre-2016 reproductive health course unit for pre-service education listed family planning content as just a few bullets under knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Current curricula, which reference the original TRP and other evidence-based guidelines like the World Health Organization’s 2015 Medical Eligibility Criteria, are far more comprehensive. They cover content on counseling on and provision of the full range of contraceptive methods, including long-acting implants and intrauterine devices. For the first time, they address:

  • Counseling on and provision of emergency contraceptive pills
  • Counseling on sexual and gender-based violence 

I have been a reproductive health trainer and teacher in Uganda for more than 30 years, and this is the first time that this type of content has become compulsory for nursing and midwifery students. It’s a big step forward for Ugandan women and girls.

I hope that other countries will use the TRP for PSE in FP/AYSRH to address gaps in providers’ capacity to provide quality, comprehensive reproductive health and family planning services. This would be a big step forward for meeting the reproductive healthcare needs of women and girls around the world.

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Editor's Note: All materials in the original Training Resource Package for Family Planning are freely adaptable. E2A's suite of materials includes a useful How-To Guide on the adaptation process itself. If you use or adapt TRP materials, we would very much appreciate it if you would email fptraining@k4health.org to tell us about your experience.