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An innovative educational approach to professional development of medical laboratory scientists in Botswana

Authors Magowe MK, Ledikwe J, Kasvosve I, Martin R, Thankane K, Semo B

Received 28 November 2013

Accepted for publication 29 January 2014

Published 11 April 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 73—81


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 6

Video abstract presented by Bazghina-werq Semo

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Mabel KM Magowe,1 Jenny H Ledikwe,2,3 Ishmael Kasvosve,1 Robert Martin,2 Kabo Thankane,3 Bazghina-werq Semo2,3

1Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana; 2Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; 3Botswana International Training and Education Center for Health, Gaborone, Botswana

Purpose: To address the shortage of laboratory scientists in Botswana, an innovative, one-year academic bridging program was initiated at the University of Botswana, to advance diploma-holding laboratory technicians towards becoming laboratory scientists holding Bachelor’s degrees. An evaluation was conducted, which described the outcomes of the program and the lessons learned from this novel approach to meeting human resource needs.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional, mixed-methods evaluation. Qualitative interviews were conducted with graduates of the Bachelor of Science (BSc) Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) bridging program, along with the graduates’ current supervisors, and key informants who were involved in program development or implementation. The quantitative data collected included a written questionnaire, completed by program graduates, with a retrospective pre-test/post-test survey of graduates’ confidence, in terms of key laboratory competencies.
Results: The BSc MLS bridging program produced thirty-three laboratory scientists over 3 years. There was a significant increase in confidence among graduates, for specified competencies, after the program (P<0.05). Graduates reported acquiring new skills and, often, accepting new responsibilities at their former workplace, particularly in relationship to leadership and management. Five graduates enrolled in advanced degree programs. Most graduates assumed increased responsibility. However, only two graduates were promoted after completing the training program. The lessons learned include: the importance of stakeholder involvement, the need for data to identify local needs, financial sustainability, catering for the needs of adult learners, and ensuring a technically challenging work environment, conducive to the application of skills learned during training.
Conclusion: A strong public health and clinical laboratory system is essential for the rapid detection and control of emerging health threats, and for patient care. However, there is a need to adequately prepare laboratory human resources, to ensure efficient and effective laboratory services. Advancement of laboratory technicians towards becoming laboratory scientists, through a bridging program, can provide the necessary skills within a short time.

Keywords: human resources for health, medical laboratory science education, bridging program

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