Learning about Teaching – Bangladesh & St Christopher’s by Dr Mostofa Kamal Chowdhury

Categories: Education and People & Places.

It was the challenge of getting involved in a new field that attracted me to palliative care after working in internal medicine previously. Palliative care is still quite young in Bangladesh and so there is so much scope for growth.

I’ve been working here at the Department of Palliative Medicine, Centre for Palliative Care at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in Dhaka since December 2018. My role as Assistant Professor involves looking after academic activities, training programmes, clinical services, research and different projects. We have an in-patient and out-patient department as well as a 24-hour telephone consultation and homecare service.

Although I first heard about St Christopher’s and Cicely Saunders as soon as I started working in palliative care, it was through one of the other services I’m involved in that I first started working together with them. That’s a community based palliative care project (Compassionate Narayanganj) we run in Narayanganj (a peri-urban city).

St Christopher’s role in the project is to assist in improving the education and training skills of the departmental staffs. We discussed with them about their Teach with CARE programme and how we might utilize it to develop the curriculum, enhance our teaching abilities, and create training materials that are as engaging as possible for us here in Bangladesh. It was the first time for St Christopher’s working with a low- or middle-income country in this capacity.

I had several meetings with Maaike Vandeweghe, Senior Educationalist at St Christopher’s, so we could adapt the existing course from four days to three and make sure it had the right focus for us. I was especially interested in learning about online technologies such as Mentimeter, Padlet, Jamboard, and Socrative, as well as improving my presentation skills. I wanted to be able to incorporate them into my teaching in order to better what I was doing.

About 20 of us, doctors, nurses and a homecare coordinator, then did the three-day programme online in October 2022. It really was amazing – very interactive and engaging and Maaike and her colleague were very supportive.

The online Teach with CARE course was just the start.

In December, Maaike visited Bangladesh so that we could do hands-on practical sessions and to follow up on the online learning platform. Maaike gave us several presentations related to palliative care and conducted workshops for preparing the curricula for the different learning groups.

We also took Maaike out into the community to show her the work the teams are doing there, and we shared thoughts and ideas together.

Working with Maaike and St Christopher’s has had a big impact.

Before when I was teaching I never did any structured lesson planning. I would just deliver. Now I plan and can make my presentation much more interactive and attractive.  In fact, just yesterday we completed our first three-day training for nurses and doctors in a primary healthcare complex in Narayanganj where we’re looking to integrate palliative care. Everyone was totally interested, focused and engaged for the whole three days, because I can honestly say our training programme was much more enriched with more contextual and colourful content than past.

Maaike, this energetic ever-inspiring lady, is so keen and passionate about what she does and has understood the flavour of this place very well. The adaptations we made to the programme to meet our needs and context really worked.

I’m looking forward to working with Maaike and St Christopher’s more, hopefully to visit and continue to develop the relationship over time beyond this project to make something bigger, both here in Bangladesh and to make a contribution to palliative care globally.

As part of that dream, the Palliative Care Society of Bangladesh, of which I am a life member, has acquired the land for an Institute for Palliative Care where there will be an academy for health professionals, patients and caregivers.

We may not be able to imitate St. Christopher’s, but it will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration for the establishment of a training and service-oriented palliative care centre in Bangladesh.

By Dr. Mostofa Kamal Chowdhury (Adil), Assistant Professor, Department of Palliative Medicine, Centre for Palliative Care at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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