Calling all palliative care nurse mentors

Categories: Education.

Nurses in Uganda have an important role to play in the provision of palliative care. Thus, by developing nurse leaders it is hoped that we will be able to support the ongoing development and leadership of palliative care within the country, and ultimately improve the quality of life of those needing palliative care.

The Uganda Palliative Care Nurse Leadership programme

The leadership programme is focused on the development of nurse leaders from different parts of the country, different types of organisations, working with both adults and children, in the hospital and community settings.

It is being run by a partnership between the University of Edinburgh, Makerere University in Kampala and the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), funded through a grant by THET.

A key component of the project is clinical and organisational modelling of nurse leadership by palliative care nurses from the UK, recognised as leaders in the field.

There are two types of mentors within the programme, those who are able to come to Uganda to mentor the nurses in person and those who can provide regular ongoing mentorship to the nurses remotely from the UK. Mentorship may be provided by an individual, or local hospices or palliative care teams can work together to provide mentorship.

On-site mentoring – palliative care nurses will come to Uganda and provide face-to-face mentorship for the nurses on the programme, alongside the specialist nurses working in the Mulago Hospital palliative care team. It is anticipated that nurses will be able to come for anything between four weeks and one year. The following will be provided for the mentors:

  • return flight to Uganda
  • cost of the visa along with travel/health insurance
  • accommodation in a shared house on a secure compound in Makindye
  • living expenses – approximately £500 per month.


Remote mentoring 
– palliative care nurses from the UK, or a team of nurses, will provide on-going support and mentorship to the nurse leaders via Skype/email/What’s App etc. Nurses will be encouraged to have regular Skype calls with their mentees.

It is envisaged that the mentorship programme will commence around October 2015 and continue until end of March 2017, and it is hoped that we will be able to have nurse mentors in Kampala throughout that time.

Nursing in Uganda

Nurses in Uganda have been receiving specialist training in palliative care for the past few years, however this training has not been recognised by the Ugandan Nursing Council and the role of specialist nurse has not yet been approved (this is work in progress and another aspect of this leadership programme).

In the meantime, nurses are trying to operate at as specialist level and there is a need to provide ongoing mentorship and support to these nurses in order for them to continue to develop and define the role of the specialist nurse.

Mentors will be based at Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU) in Kampala, and visit other sites as appropriate. This work would not only benefit the team in Mulago and the nurse leaders but will also be useful to develop palliative care nurse specialist roles throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Makerere Palliative Care Unit

The MPCU is part of the Department of Medicine in Makerere University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in East Africa.

It operates within the College of Health Sciences and participates in training, examinations and research initiatives.

Clinical services are provided through Mulago University Teaching Hospital, the national referral centre for Uganda, and the main teaching site for undergraduate and postgraduate training.

Mulago has more than 1,000 beds and hosts the only cancer treatment centre and speciality units for medicine, surgery, paediatrics, family medicine and gynaecology.

The PCU also works closely with other palliative care organisations such as HAU, Kitovu and Mildmay, as well as nationally with the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) and as members of the Ugandan Palliative Care team chaired by the Ministry of Health, and regionally with the African Palliative Care Association (APCA).

Since its inception in October 2008, the MPCU has established credibility, has a team of core Ugandan staff and has been invited to extend its services throughout the Mulago site and participate as a full member of the Department of Medicine.

The University has one of the few academic departments, and is leading the way in the development of academic palliative care departments in the region.

The MPCU has a formal collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and they have been working closely together for the past few years. The MPCU also collaborates with Hospice Africa Uganda in the development and delivery of a Diploma and BSc distance learning programme that has students from across sub-Saharan Africa.

How to apply

Application is via email to Julia.downing792@btinternet.com and should include:

  • a cover letter saying why you would like to be a mentor, when and for how long you think you would be available – if you are applying as a team (eg from a hospice) please state how you envisage this would work.
  • copy of your curriculum vitae
  • copy of your nursing registration.

For more information about the programme please contact Prof Julia Downing on Julia.downing792@btinternet.com

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