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POLHN’s New Digital Certificate Verification Platform

Upskilling health workers for the future

Upskilling health workers for the future

Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) is continuously adapting to prepare the Pacific health professionals by upskilling health workers for the future. It works against the rapid and drastic changes in the fields of non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, and climate change. This is known as the triple disease burden.

An article entitled Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia links good health with reduced absenteeism and increased worker productivity. The report emphasises the economic gains related to investment in the workforce development and education sectors. The investment allows skills enhancement, thereby enabling health workers to identify and detect early danger signs of illnesses and furnishing them with knowledge to avoid unnecessary chaos.

Preparing health workers

The recent external review by University of Technology Sydney, shows that POLHN, since its inception has been preparing health workers for contemporary tasks and skills reshaped by the triple disease burden.

The report does not predict POLHN’s future work, however it provides recommendations to ensure POLHN is well prepared to respond to the needs emerging from the changes and challenges in the Pacific.

The proficiency of POLHN means it is equipped to produce a workforce with the competencies necessary to thrive in the challenging conditions. This flexibility allows countries to customise, manage, and implement online training to improve both public health and clinical services. In doing so countries are able to produce a more productive and innovative workforce.

The benefits of MOOCs

POLHN uses a style of teaching known as “Massive Open Online Courses”, or MOOC. This method is becoming increasingly important for remote health workers looking to reskill and upskill in order to adapt to meet the needs of the future service industry. Learners are able to build onto their existing skills as well as learn new skills in a way that does not require them to stay away from work or family.

The recent POLHN upgrade allows learners to access MOOCs from their handheld devices with nominal mobile data. The platform will soon allow students to download and store course packages for later use. In addition to that, the free online course platform has recently released new courses. Topics like Obesity and overweight, Nutrition, and Healthy Diet prepare caregivers with knowledge and skills to counter growing NCD crisis in Pacific.

On top of this, Ministry of Health and licensure boards will now be able to verify POLHN course completion certificate. This process will allow greater transparency as employers and accrediting bodies will be able to authenticate certificates before relicensing health workers.

The skills acquired through continuing professional development and e-learning will equip the current health industry to become better analyst and critical thinkers.

The team at POLHN believes that upskilling and reskilling through continuing professional development will be able to keep Pacific health workers equipped to battle of the overpowering disease burden.

Making free continuing education more accessible

Making free continuing education more accessible

Educational institutions are now making more and more health courses available for free online. By providing free online nursing courses with certificates of completion, remote health workers benefit and institutions fulfill their corporate social responsibility. Free continuing education is the future.

Last month, Mohammed Aruf Yasin, Technical Officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO presented at the 12th Biennial Conference of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery (#WHOCC2018). His focus was on how to make education free and accessible for remote nurses. When asked why he chose this topic, Yasin said: “educating nurses is a more proactive approach to achieving better health outcomes, rather than monitoring individual facility performance.” For him it is all about “upskilling nurses against all potential issues before they have a chance to translate into real-world problems."

The importance of continuing nursing education

Continuing nursing education (CNE) is vital to the future of contemporary nursing. Many countries have mandatory CNE governed by regulatory bodies, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Fiji. These professional entities encourage nurses to participate in self-development activities. Regulatory boards see CNE as an opportunity to improve performance, acquire knowledge, and advance the nursing profession. However, they are still not sure how to make nursing education more sustainable and accessible to every nurse. Nurses tend to engage in CNE activities for many reasons: some for self-development opportunities, whereas others do it for specialisation or licensure. While locally accredited CNE providers sees this as a growing business opportunity, nurses in many countries end up spending a substantial portion of their annual income toward maintaining their practicing licence. However, such quick self-prescribed non-accredited courses only provide a band-aid solution without any form of sustainability. Yasin strongly advocates that every nursing education provider share at least five out of ten of their course curricula online. This can happen under common creative licencing , meaning that anyone can access it and make it available to others. Not only would this contribute to the development and maintenance of nursing fraternity, dramatically improving overall health outcomes, but this can also fall under providers’ corporate social responsibility (CSR). The use of web and mobile-based learning is a promising way of facing these challenges. The use of e-learning by registered nurses for CNE reduces travel time, provides flexibility and accessibility, is cost-effective and allows nurses to learn at their own pace and from the location of their choice. It provides a positive impact on nurses’ skills, knowledge, and levels of efficacy and satisfaction. Yasin continues, “When CSR is seen from a business perspective, many institutions can apply for the tax rebate to cover for the cost of providing free access to CNE. This means that the institution creates a better image in this socially driven world, and is able to develop sustainable health commodities for a better nursing future. This not only differentiates profit-driven institutions from those that really care about nursing and patient health, but also creates a brand power and increases media and coverage for the free education providers.”  Providing access to free online nursing courses is a win-win for both the institutions and the students.

Regionalism: the future of online education

The Edx Year 4 report shows that the non-profit platform launched 290 HarvardX and MITx courses in four years. 245,000 certificates were issued and around 4.5 million students participated during this time. This amounted to 28 million participant-hours and 2.3 billion events logged online. While platforms like Edx have been working with universities to bridge the general knowledge gap, another of such platform, Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) has been doing the same at the regional level. For the last 14 years WHO-funded platform has been working with other regional education providers to promote professional development to bridge knowledge and skill gaps. E-learning is relatively new in the Pacific and many regional institutions see this as a threat to traditional learning. However studies show that e-learning does not displace traditional classrooms but rather supplements traditional teaching. The ultimate goal is to provide free access to CNE to improve quality of care as well as patient health. A Fiji registered nurse, who is also a single mother and sole breadwinner in her family of seven strongly, believes in the power of e-learning. She told Mr Yasin, “It’s difficult to return to hospital on days off to attend face-to-face CNE. Due to the high number of nurses, not all of them get a chance to attend a self-development workshop.” By combining the institutions, universities, and some highly respected nursing individuals, POLHN is able to provide integrated e-learning topics to equip nurses to deliver a broader range of care. A skilled nursing workforce is key to ensuring continued effective nursing care. At the conference, Mr Yasin stressed the importance of platforms of POLHN: “I am thrilled, and I would get more institutions and universities to partner with us so that we can provide e-learning topics that previously did not fit narrow pay slip of remote nurses” he says. “It’s not good enough for institution to say that others are doing it or we don’t have the staff or budget to do it,” he continues. “Show nurses that you care and prove them you can do it.” For the sustainability of universities, fees from the students provide a major source of revenue, however this does not improve their social value. They need to show that they care equally about their graduates. Providing a portion of the curriculum will only enhance their standing in this competitive world, says Mr Yasin. Just by providing free access of continuing nursing education to remote nurses, we will be able to improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes, as well as job satisfaction.   To find out more about POLHN and its free free nursing e-learning courses, visit