Boot camp provides education and training for physiotherapists in Sierra Leone

Education and training were the focus of a recent World Physiotherapy boot camp for physiotherapists in Sierra Leone.

The boot camp, 16-20 January 2023, was a pilot project developed by World Physiotherapy, in collaboration with Maastricht University,  Masanga DK and ADAPT. The aim of the boot camp was to teach and upskill qualified physiotherapists and physiotherapy students and to strengthen physiotherapy training in Sierra Leone. The boot camp attracted 41 participants, both staff and students, from the physiotherapy programme at Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences.

The first bachelor programme in physiotherapy opened in Sierra Leone at Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences, in 2018. 

The boot camp was delivered over five days and included presentations from:

Sierra Leone bootcamp
Participants at the Sierra Leone boot camp

Sidy Dieye, World Physiotherapy head of programmes and development, said: “The boot camp was a pilot project that has been in development for a number of years. We completed two gap analyses to identify clinical training needs and to develop a hands-on training programme, met with representatives of ADAPT and the South African Society of Physiotherapy to leverage expertise at a regional level and to support the development of the Sierra Leone Physiotherapy Association. 

“It has been great to bring people together for a week of intensive training. The boot camp trainers have been outstanding and the participants have embraced the opportunity to learn and share experiences. It’s been a great success and has provided us with a wealth of ideas about how we can undertake capacity building projects in the future. This is a model we can take to other regions.”  

Ismaila Kebbie, president of the Sierra Leone Physiotherapy Association, said: “We wanted to have our physiotherapy clinicians, lecturers, demonstrators, and students exposed to specialists in different areas of physiotherapy specialty, to learn teaching and clinical skills. It was important for us to offer them exposure to international best practices in physiotherapy, as recommended by World Physiotherapy.

“What I enjoyed about the boot camp was the time management, mode of delivery of the huge content of information, and the excellent teamwork demonstrated by the facilitators.

“The training methodology was hands on and interactive as the trainers ensured that knowledge was not only disseminated but accurately perceived and understood by the participants. The trainers engaged participants in hands-on practical sessions, discussions and they kept the forum open for feedback, queries and suggestions. These discussions and interactive sessions were supported through training materials.

“At the end of the training, participants had gained valuable and relevant teaching and clinical skills. The participants became very much familiar with the role of World Physiotherapy in the development of physiotherapy in developing countries, including Sierra Leone, through the empowerment of local physiotherapy associations.

“The boot camp also raised the profile of physiotherapy in Sierra Leone and within the college.”

Watch a video about the boot camp, produced by GBLA TV Online for the Sierra Leone Physiotherapy Association

Alberta Rockson, member of Ghana Physiotherapy Association, said: “The boot camp served a timely response to the urgent need to filling a gap that otherwise would have been impossible to fill. The willingness of the participation from both the students and practitioners made all the difference. The professional collaboration amongst the team was admirable.”

Bart Geilen, of ADAPT, said: “My focus was to prepare and deliver sessions related to neurology physiotherapy. 

“We had about four weeks to prepare for the trip to Sierra Leone and some of the uncertainties we dealt with included the available teaching infrastructure, the knowledge and skill level of the participants.

“The highlights of the boot camp included seeing the passion and love for the profession that our colleagues in Sierra Leone have and their dedication to drive the profession forward in a country where it is relatively unknown. The participants of the course had a big theoretical knowledge base and showed a very steep learning curve throughout the week. They absorbed the concepts and skills very quickly and were able to reproduce them and implement them in mock assessments. 

“The project lived up to my expectations, taught me a lot and gave us very insights that we can use for future projects.”

Kurt Daniels, member of South African Society of Physiotherapy, said: “I was extremely excited to be offered the opportunity to share my cardiorespiratory skill set with physiotherapists in Sierra Leone. I am passionate about my profession and Africa - it was the perfect opportunity for me to showcase these passions.

“The team of facilitators have agreed to continue working with the physiotherapists in Sierra Leone by providing online lectures and booster talks.

“It’s important the vision of World Physiotherapy is upheld and implemented to develop and empower national physiotherapy associations and communities and provide them with a skill set that is comparable on a global scale.”

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