The Kenya Registered Nurse Anesthetist Program (KRNA) trains Diploma level nurses to perform officially recognized anesthesia at a high level throughout rural East Africa.
The KRNA program began in the 1990s as an in-house program training nurses who already worked in theatre how to administer anesthesia. The program was the brainchild of Dr. Mark Newton, a consultant anesthesiologist. Dr. Newton, a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, had worked in various African countries including Kenya and had seen the Human Resource gap in the provision of safe anesthesia and critical care. It is for this reason that he began this training program with the full support from the management of AIC Kijabe Hospital to enhance the hospital’s internal capacity.
After more than ten years of this in-house training program, the Nursing Council of Kenya finally accredited the course. In 2007/08 the first formal KRNA class started. Since then, over 50 graduates have come through the formal training program offered through the Kijabe School of Nursing and accredited by the Nursing Council of Kenya. The majority of its graduates work in areas with the greatest need of anesthesia care providers i.e. rural Kenya, where access to surgical facilities including safe cesarean sections for mothers is limited.
The program has grown to serve not only the Kenyan population but is looking forward to graduating the first class of South Sudanese trainees, in September 2014. This has been made possible through the sponsorship from Hospital Support Organization/African Mission Healthcare Foundation (who have provided scholarships to 45 South Sudan Nurses who will be trained between 2012-2017.
The program is also a beneficiary of a General Electric Foundation Grant that provides resources to train nurses from Western Kenya, conducting monitoring and evaluation of anesthesia care in Kenya, as well as setting up a simulation centre at AIC Kijabe Hospital. The grant is administered under the program known as, “Improving Perioperative and Anesthesia Care Training in Africa” (ImPACT Africa). This program is implemented in partnership with Vanderbilt University and the Centre for Public Health and Development. It seeks to improve the anesthesia training capacity at Kijabe Hospital as well as replicate the KRNA program in Western Kenya, in partnership with an academic institution.
The setting up of the simulation centre is a critical component of this grant. It will be the first of its kind in the region and will be a useful tool for providing skills training to various cadres of health workers. Simulation is a critical tool used to expose students to a wide range of learning scenarios of cases they are likely to encounter once they complete their training.