Competency-based and primary health care oriented undergraduate nursing programme: Curriculum development and implementation process

Barbara Dube, Ntombifikile Gloria Mtshali, Alexis Harerimana


Background and aim: Primary Health Care is a foundational element within the realm of healthcare reforms, serving as a linchpin for achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, there is a growing emphasis on building a robust primary health care nursing workforce to meet the challenges arising from chronic and complex diseases. Nursing schools are expected to align their educational programmes to the population’s health and the country’s health context, thus integrating relevant primary health care related competencies into their curricula. The study aimed to analyse the process of developing and implementing a primary health care oriented undergraduate nursing curriculum in South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative grounded theory approach by Strauss and Corbin’s framework guided this study. Forty participants—purposively selected—participated in the study. The data were collected using focus group interviews, in-depth interviews, observations, document analysis and memos. The data were analysed using the grounded theory method of constant comparative data analysis through a systematic coding, categorisation and theory-building process.

Results: The development of a primary health care oriented undergraduate nursing curriculum included: creating a curriculum team, establishing the context, obtaining the consensus on graduate primary health care competencies, determining curriculum foundation, selecting and organising the content and learning experiences, selecting experiential learning sites, selecting teaching, learning and assessment strategies. Furthermore, the study revealed competencies in primary health care expected from the students: care provision, professionalism, communication, collaboration, health advocacy, leadership and management and research. The implementation of a competency-based and PHC-oriented curriculum required the capacity building of facilitators, students, clinical mentors and preceptors and effectively adopting transformative teaching, learning and assessment.

Conclusions: A competency-based and primary health care oriented undergraduate nursing curriculum is a tool to assist in producing competent graduates who are relevant and responsive to the population’s needs in a primary health care oriented healthcare system.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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