The contribution of South African curricula to prepare health professionals for working in rural or under-served areas in South Africa: A peer review evaluation
SAMJ SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL JOURNAL
University of Cape Town, University of Kwazulu Natal
Setting. The Collaboration for Health Equity through Education and Research (CHEER) was formed in 2003 to examine strategies that would increase the production of health professionals who choose to practise in rural and under-served areas in South Africa.
Objectives. We aimed to identify how each faculty is preparing its students for service in rural or under-served areas.
Methods. Peer reviews were conducted at all nine participating universities. A case study approach was used, with each peer review constituting its own study but following a common protocol and tools. Each research team comprised at least three reviewers from different universities, and each review was conducted over at least 3 days on site.
The participating faculties were assessed on 11 themes, including faculty mission statements, resource allocation, student selection, first exposure of students to rural and under-served areas, length of exposure, practical experience, theoretical input, involvement with the community, relationship with the health service, assessment of students and research and programme evaluation.
Results. With a few exceptions, most themes were assessed as inadequate or adequate with respect to the preparation of students for practice in rural or under-served areas after qualification, despite implicit intentions to the contrary at certain faculties.
Conclusions. Common challenges, best practices and potential solutions have been identified through this project. Greater priority must be given to supporting rural teaching sites in terms of resources and teaching capacity, in partnership with government agencies.