In total, the ASU group spent a little more than a week on the ground in Malawi traveling to Blantyre and Lilongwe for campus visits. During those visits, they met with administrators, faculty, students and librarians. 

This was when Thompson was able to bring her work to life facilitating workshops introducing the modules, and the types of content available and describing their usability for each stakeholder.

“Overall, they seemed eager about the concept of evidence-based practice. Currently, the university incorporates research courses in their curriculum, so while they weren’t familiar with this exact process, it was apparent they already implement many stages of the process, just not in this systematic approach that makes it easy to follow or easy to teach,” she said.

Almost immediately, the workshop attendees identified the ripple effect this new resource would have across their communities.

“Incorporating evidence-based practice modules and information into the curriculum can help students become more knowledgeable, skilled and confident health-care providers. This can lead to improved patient outcomes and better quality of care,” Mapulanga said.

Thompson also created a PowerPoint presentation for faculty to download as a lesson plan and teach. That was something the faculty were especially interested in, as it was ready to go and would be easy to incorporate into their research course.

“The evidence-based practice materials and information delivered by Rachel was very important, as it uplifted staff lecturers on how to care for patients qualitatively. This was a super-model of information generation for patient care,” said Noel Mbirimtengerenji, a senior lecturer at the University of Health Sciences campus in Lilongwe.

Mbirimtengerenji and Mapulanga both attended the workshops and said they were looking forward to all the different ways in which they could use the SolarSPELL health libraries both on campus and in the field.

Next steps

ASU Associate Professor Laura Hosman said all three partners agreed on a plan to take this pilot project through the end of 2023, “with activities designed to demonstrate the use, impact and effectiveness of the SolarSPELL health libraries.”

For her part, Thompson is working on publishing a manuscript about her experience and the results she collected. She also plans to follow up with a survey and would like to find a way to make this a legacy DNP project so future students can continue to expand and develop it.

And even though she will graduate this May with an advanced nursing practice (family nurse practitioner), DNP degree, she’s not ready to leave this all behind and plans to continue to work with SolarSPELL as much as she can even after graduation.

"SolarSPELL is an incredible organization, and this experience was life-changing in many ways for me. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside the team and travel to witness the impact SolarSPELL is making halfway around the world. I'm truly inspired by the students and faculty at KUHeS and hope to continue to be part of this incredible education initiative."

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation