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BMC Med Educ. 2018 May 2;18(1):90. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1194-2.

Development of a neonatal curriculum for medical students in Zimbabwe - a cross sectional survey.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, P.O.Box A178, Mazoe Street, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Department of Surgery, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.
Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, P.O.Box A178, Mazoe Street, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe.



Calls have been made to reassess the curricula of medical schools throughout the world to adopt competence-based programs that address the healthcare needs of society. Zimbabwe is a country characterized by a high neonatal mortality rate of 24 per 1000 live births. The current research sought to determine the content and appropriate teaching strategies needed to guide the development of an undergraduate neonatal curriculum map for medical students at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences.


We surveyed faculty (n = 8) and non-faculty pediatricians (n = 5), senior resident medical officers (N = 26) using a self-administered questionnaire, and completed one focus group discussion with midwives (n = 11). We asked respondents their expectations regarding knowledge, psychomotor skills, competencies, and teaching strategies in a basic newborn curriculum for medical students. Relevant policy and curricula documents were reviewed to assess newborn health needs and the current training. A group of faculty educationists (n = 11) collated and finalized the findings from the document review, survey, and focus group using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.


The document review revealed three key neonatal health objectives according to the current national maternal and neonatal health road map. These objectives are to be met using a four tier approach comprising (i) family planning (ii) focused antenatal care (iii) clean and safe delivery and (iv) basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric & neonatal care. Existing curriculum has 15 newborn topics taught in lecture style during the pediatric rotations, and five newborn care skills to be learned through observation. The existing curriculum is silent on desired competencies. In the current study 19 cognitive areas, 17 psychomotor skills and six competency domains were identified for an ideal neonatal curriculum for undergraduate students. A combination of teaching strategies including classroom, simulation and a clinical rotation were recommended.


This study revealed a significant gap between the existing neonatal curriculum and the ideal curriculum as recommended by broad stakeholders in the context of national health care needs. Next steps are to complete the development and implementation of the proposed curriculum map to better align with the ideal state.


Curriculum; Medical education; Neonatal; Newborn; Undergraduate

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