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Healthcare projects on an overseas placement: how one student’s plan generated a team effort

RCNi Nursing Student Award winner’s networking and persistence got a clinic up and running

RCNi Nursing Student Award winner Temitope Babajide used networking skills and persistence to get a community clinic up and running

  • Remarkable student sought and planned health promotion opportunities before leaving for her month-long placement in Ghana
  • By working with local healthcare providers, she established a community clinic that offers healthcare screening and social events for an isolated group
  • Fundraising and volunteer work has had a long-term impact on the community she visited
Our 2020 RCNi Nursing Student award winner Temitope Babajide

In just four weeks, a determined nursing student on an overseas placement in Ghana set up a project that is improving healthcare access and outcomes for widowed women.

Anglia Ruskin University student Temitope

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RCNi Nursing Student Award winner Temitope Babajide used networking skills and persistence to get a community clinic up and running

  • Remarkable student sought and planned health promotion opportunities before leaving for her month-long placement in Ghana
  • By working with local healthcare providers, she established a community clinic that offers healthcare screening and social events for an isolated group
  • Fundraising and volunteer work has had a long-term impact on the community she visited
Our 2020 RCNi Nursing Student award winner Temitope Babajide

In just four weeks, a determined nursing student on an overseas placement in Ghana set up a project that is improving healthcare access and outcomes for widowed women.

Anglia Ruskin University student Temitope Babajide has been named winner of the Nursing and Midwifery Council-sponsored nursing student category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 for her inspirational work.

Planning ahead to initiate the community projects

Ms Babajide set up a holistic healthcare screening and support group for isolated widows in a rural community, which still runs regularly, as well as driving the renovation of an orphanage.

She also delivered glove awareness sessions in a hospital and its nursing school during her action-packed month-long placement in Takoradi, Ghana.

Ms Babajide, who lives by the motto ‘be the change you want the world to see’, signed up for an overseas healthcare placement that took place in August 2019, but her work began long before she arrived in Ghana.

‘You can use your nursing skills anywhere in the world to make a difference and it will have a ripple effect on your patient, their families and the people you work with’

Temitope Babajide, RCNi Nursing Student Award winner 2020

‘Because of my research, I had a clear plan to show people, so I could seek relevant support, donations and advice,’ she says.

Those donations included an observation machine on a stand for the screening clinic, and anatomy and physiology books from bookshops.

Find out about the rest of our RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 category winners
Ms Babajide, pictured far left, enlisted the help of a team of volunteer students in Ghana

‘When asking for support, I had a lot of “no”s but that did not deter me’

After approaching 20 companies, one agreed to ship the books, which had to take place six weeks in advance so they would arrive in time.

‘I asked a lot of people and I had a lot of “no”s but that did not deter me,’ she says. ‘Networking in England had an impact – I spoke at conferences and RCN meetings.’

Ms Babajide, left, Effia-Nkwanta nursing
and midwifery training school vice-principal
Rose Addai, centre, and an administrator, with
the donated textbooks and RCNi journals

Ms Babajide met former RCN president Cecilia Anim and RCN professional learning and development facilitator Ruth Burey.

Dr Anim knew someone at the Effia-Nkwanta Hospital in Takoradi – where Ms Babajide was headed – who connected her with the manager there.

Through this contact, Ms Babajide was put in touch with someone with links to the orphanage board, with whom she could share the building work quotes she had procured and then form a plan.

When fundraising didn’t reach their planned target, they asked university students to provide the labour and so only paid for materials and two professionals to oversee the renovation.

‘It was achieved by everyone working together – global partnership,’ says Ms Babajide.

The widows’ clinic: how I gained the support of the community

Temitope Babjide explains how she set up her project in Ghana:

‘I spent one week in Princess Town, where many isolated widows were not accessing support services.

‘The poor, rural community had a history of water-borne diseases and high blood pressure, and diets contained a lot of carbohydrate and minimal vegetables.

‘I planned to run a screening clinic and support group for the widows.

‘To seek help, I presented my programme to the multidisciplinary team in the regional hospital – consultants, students, doctors, healthcare support workers and even a dietician. I had made contact before I arrived, and had proved myself in A&E, so we had built a rapport.

‘They helped secure a venue – the community hall. The nurse in charge took me to the pharmacy to get what I needed in bulk, including multivitamins and malaria screening devices.

‘Doctors and nurses gave up their time to travel down and I enlisted the support of the community’s pastor and MP.

A poster for one of the health promotion events Ms Babajide organised during her time in Ghana

Blood pressure and HIV screening

‘A nurse who worked for World Health Organization screening for HIV brought resources and a colleague.

‘I had created posters in England to advertise the clinic and group, which I printed off at an internet café.

‘We screened 100 people for HIV and checked blood sugar levels and blood pressure using the machine I brought.

‘I wanted to try to address the causes of the widows’ high blood pressure. They were not cared for – they did not socialise and some were depressed.

‘Often their husband’s family had taken all their possessions when he died, including land they grew food on. There were huge mental pressures.

‘We offered empowerment sessions and skills building, an opportunity to socialise with a meal and entertainment. I was joined by a counsellor from their community.

Breaking down barriers and building trust

‘The key to achieving my goals was preparation and integration, which builds trust – if you don’t get along you won’t get anything done.

‘I’d learned some phrases in England. Just asking, ‘how are you?’ helped break down barriers. I was friendly, showed kindness. We played games with children in the street. Everybody knew us.

‘Now the widows have something to look forward to every week and support to make healthy choices. One widow said the skills sessions helped her make lifestyle changes and better health choices.

‘Nobody was using this community venue – except goats. Now young people use it for events, talent shows, to play music. The church has found the widows some land to use. There are fewer cases of depression. It is having a long-lasting impact on the community.’

Resources to pass on to students and healthcare professionals

Ms Babajide says before leaving, she visited international organisations’ stands at RCN congress to see what people were doing in other parts of the world.

Ms Babajide offloading supplies in Ghana

‘I began building my network at the hospital in Ghana before I went and once there was able to network with healthcare professionals from all over the world.

‘We shared our placement goals and supported each other’s projects.’

She obtained permission to use and adapt some glove awareness resources, and organised a shipment of donated gloves for the A&E part of her placement.

‘This has reduced infection rates and has been especially valued during the pandemic – this education continues to be delivered.

‘I spoke to students at the nursing school and took some resources, including textbooks and my Nursing Standard magazines from the past two years.

‘The students benefited so much that the nursing school has subscribed.

‘You can use your nursing skills anywhere in the world to make a difference and it will have a ripple effect on your patient, their families and the people you work with.’

Ms Babajide during her placement

How to leave an impact on a short placement

Temitope Babajide’s advice for nursing students planning for a placement overseas:

  1. Do your research
  2. Use this research to make a plan
  3. Get organised
  4. Use your network
  5. Once you arrive, integrate

Recognition for teamwork that stretched across the globe and across disciplines

Witnessing the long-term impact of her efforts has motivated Ms Babajide to continue making a difference in England, volunteering more than 1,000 hours helping people in the community during the pandemic.

She still supports the Ghanaian community she visited through fundraising and sharing ideas.

Now Ms Babajide is looking forward to her first role as a newly qualified nurse, in cancer care, and a career promoting and celebrating nursing.

‘I have been able to make changes because I have been mentored and inspired – I want to motivate the next generation and hopefully winning this award will be the beginning of that’

Ms Babajide

‘I am incredibly proud to win this award in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife,’ she says.

‘My projects were all about global, multidisciplinary collaboration and the award recognises the individual and teamwork that made it happen.

‘I have been able to make changes because I have been mentored and inspired – I want to motivate the next generation and hopefully winning this award will be the beginning of that.’

Senior nursing and medical staff at Effia-Nkwanta Hospital gather to receive the donated
clinical supplies organised by Ms Babajide

An ambassador for nursing students

Nursing and Midwifery Council senior nursing education adviser and RCNi Nurse Awards judge Sue West says Ms Babajide’s ‘passion and enthusiasm’ led to better and safer care.

‘She shared infection control best practice, and her enthusiasm to make a difference is evident, volunteering in her own community and overseas too.

‘Nursing is a profession in which daily reflection and growth is essential, and what really impressed me was the way that she actively seeks and acts on feedback.

‘She continues to inspire and support others as an ambassador for nursing students.’


Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor


The RCNi Nursing Student Award is sponsored by the Nursing and Midwifery Council

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