Kenya’s First Nurse to Attain a PhD in Palliative Care – Dr. Jostine Mutinda

Categories: Care, Education, Featured, Leadership, and Opinion.

It was joy and jubilation for 5171 graduands as JKUAT marked her 37th graduation ceremony that saw the conferment of degrees and award of diplomas by the Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ndung’u.

The ceremony that witnessed 56 PhD graduates conferred degrees was special to the School of Nursing. The School graduated its first PhD graduate, Dr. Jostine Ndunge Mutinda. She was supervised by the Dean, School of Nursing, Dr. Mutisya Kyalo and Dr. Sherry Oluchina.

With her thesis titled “A model of pain management using opioid analgesics in palliative care nursing in Kenya”, Dr. Mutinda is the latest Doctor of Palliative Care in Kenya.

The Critical Care Nurse specialist and a Lecturer at the JKUAT School of Nursing reckon that satisfactory pain management is an essential component of palliative care which emphasizes pain and symptom management in life-limiting disease. She conducted her study in Machakos and Embu county referral hospitals.

Driven by the virtue of doing the right thing always in her service to humanity, Dr. Mutinda, sat down with the Corporate Communications Office for an interview as she highlighted her career, academic journey and future plans.

Kindly introduce yourself and what you do?

I am a Critical Care nurse specialist and a lecturer at the JKUAT School of Nursing. At the school, I teach general nursing and critical care with an aim of ensuring that our students get quality training to enable them to manage emerging issues like COVID 19 which has been a major challenge in critical care.

What inspired you to do the course and why JKUAT?

I chose to do the course in JKUAT as I expected to get quality supervision. There is a gap in pain assessment tools that needed to be addressed. The tools lacked provision for monitoring of and; management of side effects and inability to assess pain in special populations. There was no standard recommended model of pain management in palliative care hence the need to address the identified gaps. Additionally, I needed to change my institution of training since the other two degrees I obtained from the University of Nairobi.

What was your experience at JKUAT?

My experience was fairly good notwithstanding the constant breaks occasioned by lecturers’ strikes and the COVID 19 pandemic among other issues which made the course take five and half years instead of three. Being the first PhD graduate in the School of Nursing, I had to navigate through many grey areas with my supervisors.

What has been your greatest lesson through your PhD studies?

Learning is a continuous journey and that PhD training is a journey full of challenges but the achievement of the award is fulfilling.

What has been your career journey so far?

It has been characterized by exposure to different areas. I started off as a clinical nurse in the hospital and later joined the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK), where we were obligated in setting the standards of training and practice for nurses in Kenya. It is at the NCK that I got to interact with Kenya Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) who facilitated my visit to Uganda where I learnt best practices in palliative care and this made me develop an interest in the area. Later, I went to teaching and served as a Dean – School of Nursing at the University of Embu where I saw the School grow to accreditation status among other accomplishments.

What is your experience in the field of nursing and how does attaining this PhD contribute to the field?

My experience as I mentioned has been in all spheres of nursing including teaching in the classroom and clinical area, administration as well as engaging in research. Both in the clinical area and in my interaction with KEHPCA, I noticed the challenges facing cancer patients as well as other patients living with life-limiting illnesses who require palliative care, especially in symptoms management. This experience made me see the need of developing a Model of care that would aid in symptoms management of such patients. It is my hope that this innovation generated from my PhD in nursing will go a long way to help advance nursing practice as well as aid in meeting both national and international goals including the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Universal health coverage.

Apart from being a career woman and an academician, what do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I do serve in the church and help out with children with special needs like deafness, autism, paralysis among other conditions.

What is next for Dr. Mutinda? And what advice would you give to students of nursing?

I would like to advise the students to work hard and aim at improving the quality of the nursing practice. Going forward, I need to mentor others through supervision and scholarly guidance.

What recommendations do you have for the University and regulatory bodies in your field?

I urge the University to mount more specialized courses which attract more students, hence enabling the School to grow. As for the regulators,  they should set clear policies on accreditation of postgraduate courses as well as curriculum implementation.

This article was originally written and published by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Please find the original article here:


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