A new way of learning in PNG Hospitals: A nurse’s story

Sister Daisy Langu is an emergency department nurse at ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital, Papua New Guinea. She recently participated in Kumul Helt Skul, a new job-embedded professional development program, offering courses via mobile phone.

Health
Education & Skills Training

Catalpa

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The Kumul Helt Skul program is part of the ANGAU Hospital Redevelopment Project supported by Australia under the PNG-Australia Partnership.

Growing up in the most remote part of East Sepik province, Sister Daisy Langu saw many young mothers die during childbirth.

“I was so sad seeing those mothers dying,” she said. “That’s what motivated me to complete my one year diploma in general nursing at Lae School of Nursing in 2004.”

Today, Sister Langu is an emergency department nurse at ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital (AMPH), Papua New Guinea.

Her shifts are busy in the emergency department (ED), with resources stretched and staff shortages common.

“These days we're seeing more and more patients flooding in,” she said. “For one nurse, we are supposed to only manage 10 patients at a time, but we always see more patients than we’re supposed to receive.”

Since graduating in 2004, Sister Langu has only been able to access two further education and training opportunities. Both were in-person workshops.

The first was a two day course on stabilising trauma patients, run by the US and PNG defence forces. The second, a paediatric life support course conducted by Australian Nurses, was cancelled after one day due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Kumul Helt Skul, a new learning experience

In 2021, with support from the Australian Government, a new online learning opportunity was offered to AMPH healthcare professionals through the Kumul Helt Skul program developed by Catalpa International.

The blended learning program offered job-embedded professional development courses, completed via mobile phone. Sister Langu, was the first person to complete all of the available courses on Kumul Helt Skul.

Using her Android smartphone to access the Bero-powered Kumul Helt Skul web app, Sister Langu said she found the courses easy to understand and complete on her device.

"I was so excited to do these online courses," she said. "Actually, it was the first time I've ever learnt anything online. Sometimes I would make a mistake but it was easy to go back, read the information again and correct my mistake.”

As a mother of two children, Sister Langu has a busy schedule outside of work too. The short format of Kumul Helt Skul’s microlearning-designed courses worked around her other responsibilities.

“Most of my courses were done at home on my day off, or after work when I had finished cooking and taking care of the little ones.”

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The course length was so flexible and convenient for me. I'm able to do it at any time, at my own pace.

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Sister Langu said the ability to go back through lessons in her own time allowed her to properly absorb the information and revisit it when she needed to. She had previously found that short on-site workshops try to cover a lot of content in a short amount of time, making it harder to retain and put into practice.

Sister Langu reported other nurses in her team were referring back to the app as a refresher to what they learnt in college.

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Courses were created using a microlearning pedagogy, meaning that content is delivered in short - but focused - lessons that can easily be completed within a busy schedule.

Practical learning improves triage

Understandably, Sister Langu enjoyed the courses relevant to the emergency department the most.

“I loved the ED courses. For me, they were the most useful because they explained things like triaging."

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I can now prioritise which patients should be seen first, and which can be later. According to the severity of the illness, I'm able to manage the patients well.

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Since completing the courses, Sister Langu and her colleagues have been putting their triage knowledge into practise. She reported that she and her colleagues felt more confident managing the prioritisation of patients and controlling overcrowding.

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Sister Langu completed the courses on her smartphone during her breaks and after work at home.

Future learning

Sister Langu’s positive learning experience with Kumul Helt Skul was a great introduction to online learning, and she’s keen to continue growing her professional skills and knowledge.

“I haven't been through such courses before, and I've gained a lot of experience doing this course online for the first time. Now I'm able to confidently go online, so I'm thankful for the program.”

She is enthusiastic about the possibility of additional courses in the future and believes some simple courses on understanding devices and online learning would help her colleagues who felt more tentative about the new mode of training.

An independent evaluation of the program found a statistically significant improvement in 13 of 15 clinical tasks tested, and a 12.9% increase in knowledge as compared to the pre-training exam. Read the full report in The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific journal.


The Kumul Helt Skul app is built using Bero, Catalpa's mobile learning platform.

Kumul Helt Skul was delivered as part of the ANGAU Hospital Redevelopment in partnership with the National Department of Health Papua New Guinea, with support from the Australian Government under the PNG-Aus Partnership.

The ANGAU Hospital Redevelopment is delivering more than just a building. It is also delivering improved healthcare, modernised services and an upskilled workforce. It enables direct and ongoing training, mentoring and support for health care workers across PNG.

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