The Nursing school at Bongolo hospital started in 1977. The missionary nurses realized that they couldn’t give all the patient care by themselves, and that they needed to train local Gabonese. At that time, it was a 2-year program, and the first 7 students graduated in 1979. After that, the school changed to a 33-month program. Today, they accept 15 students every 3 years.
The program is very similar to nursing programs in the United States. The students spend every morning (8-12) at the hospital giving patient care, and then take their didactic studies every afternoon from 3-5pm. They learn anatomy and physiology, each body system, along with the diseases and treatments for that system. They learn all their nursing skills and must pass a practical exam for each one before practicing on real patients. They also take specialty courses like Obstetrics and Pediatrics. In their last year, they take courses on how to diagnose and treat patients as consultants.
This course is really at a level of a nurse practitioner. Because we have fewer doctors than a normal hospital, the nurses carry a heavier load of making clinical decisions and treating patients. So, in that way, they are more advanced than nurses in the West.
The program is very challenging—especially considering that most only have a 10th grade education, with low general educational and math skills. A lot of time is dedicated to tutoring reading, writing, and math techniques.
Students also take a weekly Bible course attend weekly Bible studies. In training them to be both nurses and disciples of Jesus, they are better able to minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of their patients.
Many patients have accepted Christ as a result of the students sharing their testimony, praying with patients, and sharing the gospel. Watching the students’ relationship with God deepen and spill over into their work is wonderful—is not just a vocation, it is also a ministry.
Completed 10th grade or higher
letter from pastor
certificate of baptism from an evangelical church
No prior medical knowledge required
Pass entrance exams
If they pass the entrances exams, then the group of professors pray over the applicants and discuss pros and cons for each one. We definitely want God’s choices, and not to lean on our own understanding solely.