McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

'McMaster approach' exported to South Africa

by Suzanne Morrison
Published: June 15, 2009
Peter George meeting with South African university representatives

FRONT ROW: Left to Right: Dr. NS Mashego (Vice-Rector, North West University), Dr. Peter George (President, McMaster University)

BACK ROW: Left to Right: Mr. S. Lenong (Human Resources Development & Planning, Department of Health), Dr. Andrea Baumann (Associate Vice-President Faculty of Health Sciences, International Health), Dr. Mashudu Maselesele (Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Science & Technology, Department of Nursing), Dr. Catherine Tompkins (Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences Nursing), Miss M.G. Kgori (Human Resources Development & Planning, Department of Health).

[View enlarged photo]

It was just a year ago that Mashudu Maselesele, dean of agriculture, science, technology and the department of nursing at South Africa's North West University, learned about the innovative problem-based model of learning (PBL) developed at McMaster.

Enlightened by the experience, Maselesele returned this year to the same venue, last month's International Interdisciplinary Summer Institute, organized by McMaster's International Health Office, bringing with her faculty and staff from North West.

A meeting with Andrea Baumann, associate vice-president of the International Health Office led to planning for collaboration. Determined to implement PBL and the McMaster approach, North West has successfully secured funding to support collaboration between McMaster's School of Nursing and the nursing science department at North West University.

The new partnership was confirmed Wednesday when McMaster University President Peter George, Maselesele, N.S. Mashego, vice-rector of North West University, Baumann and Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of the faculty of health sciences (nursing), signed a memorandum of understanding.

The agreement will see McMaster nursing faculty assist North West in its development of master's and doctoral degrees, as well as opportunities for post doctoral studies, while enhancing research skills, initiating staff and student exchanges and assisting in the broader development of PBL in South Africa.

"The impact of this new collaboration is going to be in the quality of teaching, learning and research in the department of nursing," said Mashego.

According to Maselesele, PBL's effects are expected to "cascade" from nursing to the entire university.

"We hope that after five years we will be a centre of excellence, not just for South Africa but for the entire continent," she said. "Why wouldn't we? PBL is McMaster's brainchild and we are learning from its pioneers."

With only 3,185 professional nurses to serve a population of 3.8 million, North West province has a dire need for nurses as people there struggle with HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and malnutrition. North West hopes the new agreement will help them recruit and train nurses to meet these challenges.

This year's Summer Institute also hosted participants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Spain, Portugal and Brazil and included nurses, doctors, midwives, a science journalist, computer specialist and university librarian.

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