Diploma in Project Design & Management (DPDM)

The Diploma in Project Design & Management (DPDM) is a one-year, part-time professional diploma that enables participants to undertake a small focused research project. Students are taken through a hands-on practical research capacity building course.

DPDM is open to all health professionals at the hospital and blood transfusion service. Anyone can apply, whether a clinician or doctor, nurse, laboratory technician or technologist. Those working in hospital administration and finance, data management and information systems are also welcome.

DPDM was developed in partnership with the Kwame Nkruma University of Science and Technology, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (both in Kumasi, Ghana) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). The course has been running in Kumasi for eleven years and through T-REC was introduced more recently in Accra, Ghana and Harare, Zimbabwe.

T-REC has sponsored staff from local Blood Transfusion Services in Ghana and Zimbabwe to undertake DPDM. They have agreed projects with their employers and conducted research which aims to enhancethe quality of services offered. Many of the DPDM projects are clinical and laboratory based, but some participants have explored topics such as the attitudes of donors to replacement donation, or the fall-off in repeat donations.


What do students do on DPDM?  

Each student designs their own study in a health-related field that allows them to do their jobs better, improve their research skills and strengthen capacity in their institution. A supervisor is assigned individually to offer support and advice throughout the process.

DPDM has four workshops to strenghten capacity in the following areas:

  1. Research skills and methodologies, interaction with research institutions and offices for ethical approval, proposal writing and reflective practice. At the end of this workshop, students submit a draft proposal addressing the proposed research methods, budget and timeline. They later revise this proposal with support from their supervisor.
  2. Data gathering and management, development of a questionnaire or other appropriate tools. Students also learn how to interpret data, and apply this to their own research work. Primary data are then collected in the field on receipt of ethical approval.
  3. Data analysis and report writing. Students learn how to present their findings in a recognised report format, adequately referenced and in an appropriate register of English.
  4. Reflective writing. Students reflect on episodes of learning from each stage of the programme, and suggest how this might inform any future research they might undertake.


Why is research capacity important at the hospital level?

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not emphasise research capacity skills at undergraduate level. Graduates may have contributed to research, but do not have the skills or confidence to initiate it and conduct it on their own. DPDM helps to build that individual capacity and use the results to improve hospital practice.

Dr Daniel Ansong (DPDM coordinator, Ghana) suggests research capacity strengthening for clinicians and doctors is essential if they are to complete the dissertation component of their fellowship programme. In his experience, DPDM students understand the research process better, and have the skills and confidence to complete on time. Crucially, they are also more likely to undertake post-fellowship research activities, and validation of DPDM by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine lends credibility when applying for scholarships and Master’s level study. “The more health professionals there are who understand research on the wards,” says Dr Ansong, “the better the research output is likely to be, and the more impact it will have”.


Edward Asumanu, 37 Military Hospital, Accra

Click on Edward’s photograph to hear his experience of studying on DPDM. He devised a research project to examine outcomes of emergency admissions in the teaching hospital, and suggested lessons that could then be applied to hospital practice.