DoHeCa – Education in DOnor HEalth CAre from Scratch to Pilot By Suzanna M van Walraven, PhD, DoHeCa project lead

Tue, January 10, 2017 8:33 AM | Steve Bolton

When I say the word ‘DONOR’, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it altruism, blood, organ, the gift of life? Most likely, the word ‘education’ is not something that immediately comes to mind. The fact is, that although we may have different associations to the word ‘donor’ and work in different capacities with blood donors and products, we have so much in common.

Our shared connection to donors is the main reason behind the creation of the Education in Donor Health Care (DoHeCa) pilot, a project to develop education on a post-academic level for professionals working in the fields of blood, tissue, cell and organ donation. Sanquin is the initiator of the project, which was co-funded by the European Union Erasmus Life Long Learning Program.

Academic education in donor health care, covering the entire spectrum of donors (volunteer, paid, alive, deceased, adult, pediatric) and blood products (blood, tissue, cells, organs), was previously not available. But for the past three years, an international consortium has been working together to create a comprehensive curriculum on the subject. DoHeCa is unique as it is entirely e-learning based. Students from countries all over the world follow lectures, interact with their international peers, and submit assignments online.

The program consists of five modules, covering topics related to each stage of the donation process:

1.      Basic Principles in donor health care
2.      Donor suitability
3.      Donation and complications
4.      Specification and applications of substances of human origin
5.      Quality management in donor health care

A module in personal development that aims to develop leadership skills, critical appraisal of literature, communication skills, and reflective practice will run parallel to the above modules during the 15 months of the program.

We are proud to announce that the pilot program launched in September 2016. A call for new students in early 2016 resulted in over 60 people expressing interest, of which 34 submitted an application and 23 met the inclusion criteria: a former level of education of at least EQF6 (bachelor’s degree), previous work experience in the field of donor care management and sufficient knowledge of the English language in speech and writing. The pilot group that was formed is made up of twelve international students of varying backgrounds, each with different level of education (physicians, nurse specialists, technicians), country of origin (Australia, Denmark, Estonia, India, Lithuania, Spain, United Kingdom), and donation experience (blood, tissues, cells, organ).

The first weeks have been challenging for the students, with a course load of 20 hours per week, but overall feedback has been positive regarding the content of the program and formatting of the course materials (lectures, online forums and presentations), and there has been a lot of interaction between students on the discussion boards.

The launch of the DoHeCa program is exciting for all involved and we look forward to seeing how it progresses and sharing the results of the pilot program. Please visit us http://www.donorhealthcare.org at to learn more.  


ADRP, an International Division of America's Blood Centers, is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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