Decentralised training for medical students : towards a South African consensus
Author(s)De Villiers, Marietjie R.
van Schalkwyk, Susan
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AbstractIntroduction: Health professions training institutions are challenged to produce greater
numbers of graduates who are more relevantly trained to provide quality healthcare.
Decentralised training offers opportunities to address these quantity, quality and relevance
factors. We wanted to draw together existing expertise in decentralised training for the benefit
of all health professionals to develop a model for decentralised training for health professions
Method: An expert panel workshop was held in October 2015 initiating a process to develop a
model for decentralised training in South Africa. Presentations on the status quo in decentralised
training at all nine medical schools in South Africa were made and 33 delegates engaged in
discussing potential models for decentralised training.
Results: Five factors were found to be crucial for the success of decentralised training, namely
the availability of information and communication technology, longitudinal continuous
rotations, a focus on primary care, the alignment of medical schools’ mission with decentralised
training and responsiveness to student needs.
Conclusion: The workshop concluded that training institutions should continue to work
together towards formulating decentralised training models and that the involvement of all
health professions should be ensured. A tripartite approach between the universities, the
Department of Health and the relevant local communities is important in decentralised
training. Lastly, curricula should place more emphasis on how students learn rather than how
they are taught.