Dr Olufunke Bolaji is a former student of the NOTE programme and is happy to share her experience with you:
What is your personal and professional background?
I am Dr Olufunke Bolaji, a Consultant Paediatrician to the Federal Teaching Hospital Ido-Ekiti (FETHI) and Senior Lecturer at the College of Medicine, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. I obtained the MB;BS degree from the College of Medicine, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria in 2003, and Fellowship in Paediatrics from the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2015. I was the Recipient of the Visiting Fellowship of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) United Kingdom, in 2016. Our hospital, the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti has a 36-bedded neonatal unit which I head. I have about 8 years' experience providing care for neonates in our neonatal unit. When I'm not working, I love to spend time with my family as well as teaching the scriptures to children in church.
How did you learn about the NOTE programme?
I learned about the NOTE programme through an internet search borne out of a keen desire and passion to obtain up-to-date knowledge and skill in neonatal care.
Which NOTE module(s) were you enrolled in?
Pulmonology, Nutrition and the university Research Methods and Evidence-Based Practice.
Which aspects of the NOTE programme did you enjoy the most?
Pulmonology. This is because respiratory support for neonates was virtually non-existent in our facility as at when I started the module even though we care for babies born as early as 26 weeks GA and birth weight as low as 600 grams.
How has your participation in the NOTE programme impacted your practice?
The NOTE programme has totally transformed my practice, especially when it comes to Respiratory Support and Nutrition.
- Respiratory support: shortly before the end of the module, based on the knowledge acquired from the module I worked to organise a workshop on respiratory support in neonates for the healthcare staff providing neonatal care in our department. We also invited participants from the other tertiary hospital in the state and from the nearby states. The goal was to have some degree of step-down of the knowledge I had acquired. Together with the team in the neonatal unit, we were able to convince the hospital management to provide 2 CPAP machines and 1 ventilator suitable for neonates for our use in the unit. This is totally unprecedented in the history of the hospital. In addition, our unit now serves as a mini hub for 3 states around us providing surfactant and caffeine to facilities who otherwise will not have access to it. I was able to facilitate this driven by the knowledge I acquired from the course. To bring it to reality, I committed my own personal money to purchase these drugs from the only company that sells the drugs in Lagos which is a minimum of 6 hours drive away. My knowledge of the importance of these drugs has helped us to make it available to patients who can afford it in a healthcare setting where cost of care is largely out-of-pocket expenditure (these drugs are unaffordable to many patients that is why they are largely unavailable in hospital pharmacies). The Residents that work with me are now conversant with administering surfactant by INSURE as well as giving Delivery Unit Caffeine. These are "luxuries" I never had till I finished my postgraduate training in paediatrics. We have developed a protocol for caffeine use which has helped us save more babies in the past 6 months.
- Nutrition: our practice even for the tiniest babies hitherto revolved around giving fluids and giving as much breastmilk as the baby would tolerate. Now, I know that this practice would not get us to the best outcomes. Learning about Parenteral nutrition has started us thinking about what we can adapt for our Low- and middle-income setting. The planning for a webinar with a company that markets Trophamine are underway so that we can adapt what would work for our neonates. I have also strengthened the knowledge I have on early commencement of feeds in preterm infants and have stepped down this knowledge to the doctors and nurses I work with.
- Finally, I have become a champion for adapting best global practice and evidence for our neonates, our resident doctors are very happy to do things differently based on evidence and see results and they are excited to be able to practice some of what they read "only in books".
Would you recommend NOTE to others?
Yes, and I have been recommending it to my colleagues.