How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: strategies and reflections

stethoscope 2019_

(Hush Naidoo, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah, a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan with 5 years of experience in the field of student advocacy and medical education development in Sudan and Africa. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Primary healthcare is the foundation of all health systems as it is the first contact and ongoing link between people and their health providers. Yet 400 million people around the world do not have access to basic health services. After the new global commitment to primary healthcare (PHC) in Astana a few months back, PHC has never been more important.

A few months back, I went on a medical mission to Kordofan, a state 12 hrs from from the capital city of Sudan. As we visited village after village, I observed the status of PHC centres. Understaffed, under resourced, and bluntly said, empty. One centre was a room, slightly larger than a classroom, with only a desk and a couch  where even a size 16 cannula could not be found. It became quite apparent to me that aside from the low resources, the notable shortage of primary health care workers is greatly affecting the provision of quality basic health care services. I silently asked myself, who would work here ? How can we make Primary Healthcare an attractive career choice for medical students who constitute the bulk of the future health workforce ?

As a strong believer that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, one of the fundamental solutions is reforming of undergraduate medical education on 3 main aspects – Firstly, decentralisation of medical education such that states within a country have schools that graduate doctors who will work in the same communities they came from. In addition, medical schools must ensure their selection policies are inclusive of students from rural/underserved areas by providing financial aid whenever needed. The second aspect is to increase the longitudinal exposure and training of students in PHC settings. It it has been documented that undergraduate training largely influences career choices of medical students however, in most schools, 90% of clinical training is in tertiary health institutions and in the 4 main disciplines of medicine. What if PHC or family medicine would be the 5th ? The final aspect is to promote social accountability amongst medical students by creating opportunities whether core or elective within the curriculum that allow for students to engage with and feel accountable to their communities.

Another approach would be to address postgraduate training. Most students feel there is no room for career growth within PHC especially in rural areas, hence it is essential to create a strong and compelling continuous professional development and training programme for physicians working in PHC settings.

Finally, addressing working conditions is integral. It is paramount to bridge the payment gap between specialists and PHC physicians by increasing the funding for PHC in general. This, coupled by appropriate working hours, well resourced centres and adjunct benefits like insurance and housing will help reduce the perceived imbalance between specialists and PHC physicians.

In conclusion, the shortage of primary health care workers is an complex issue, which will require a combination of strategies to solve. It is important to involve youth in the continuous assessment of the situation and the implementation of innovative ideas to address this challenge.

Health is for all, by all.

About the author

Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah is a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan with 5 years of experience in the field of student advocacy and medical education development in Sudan and Africa. She is currently the Regional co-ordinator of Medical education for Africa at the International Federation for Medical Students Association (IFMSA). Alaa recently founded MHSL (Model Health system Leaders ) a novel initiative that aims to promote youth understanding & reforming of health systems. She aspires to pursue a career in Health systems and health workforce planning.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

COP21 Breaking News_07 December: “The world is expecting more from you than half-measures”, UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon cries out from Paris

The MH17 tragedy to put a tombstone on Ukrainian civil war

European markets itchy with short-term disturbances

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

How India’s globalized cities will change its future

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

Ukraine: turning challenges into opportunities


Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Russia to cut gas supplies again: can the EU get back to growth without a solid energy market?

JADE Testimonial #1: Marcello @ Enlargement

Commission challenges Council over EU 2014 budget

Scotland and First Minister Salmond enter the most challenging battlefield for independence: Europe

Eurozone plans return to growth

UN, Egypt help avert another Israel-Palestine war in Gaza that was ‘minutes away’, Security Council hears

Myanmar and UN agriculture agency agree framework to improve nutrition and food security

Electronic or conventional cigarettes – which is safer?

5 surprising ways digital technology is changing childhood

Competing with Apple and leading innovation: Google’s world replies to EU on android charges

Non-performing loans: banks need to mitigate the risk of potential losses

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Libya: Attack on foreign ministry, an attack on all Libyans, stresses UN envoy

Erasmus+ will finance existing UK-EU mobility in the event of no-deal Brexit

5 leadership lessons I learned from doing my own ‘undercover boss’

Pollinating insects: Commission proposes actions to stop their decline

The digital transformation is a skills and education opportunity for all. Companies must use it

Who really cares for the environment?

Capital transaction tax on Ecofin table

Parliament approves EU rules requiring life-saving technologies in vehicles

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

Eurozone’s north-south growth gap to become structural

On our way to China

China is the first non-EU country to invest in Europe’s €315 billion Plan

Brexit may finally not really happen; The Brits have second thoughts

China revisited by the former Ambassador of Hungary to China

Electronic or conventional cigarettes – which is safer?

Trump to subject the Fed, challenge the ECB and make Wall St. bankers even richer

What the Corn Laws tell us about Brexit Britain

The fat from your next takeaway meal could help clean up global shipping

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driving Globalization 4.0

The European Sting’s 2018 in most critical review

Why flexible workspaces are the key to winning the talent war

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

‘Path to peace’ on Korean Peninsula only possible through diplomacy and full denuclearization: US tells Security Council

Why are wildfires getting worse?

Five ways to increase trust in e-commerce

Trump’s Russophiles under investigation, Europe remains ‘en garde’

Arlington, USA: kick-off of the fifth round of the EU-US boxing match

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

We need to deep clean the oceans. Here’s how to pay for it

For Youth Rights: steps forward for better protection.

MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to trigger disruption, claim industry leaders

Europe split in confronting the US sanctions on Iran, Washington isolated

Ecocraft: take gaming to another level by greening Minecraft

China hopes EU Commissioner De Gucht drops super anti-dumping tariff on solar panels

Trade barriers: EU removes record number in response to surge in protectionism

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

UN chief welcomes new push by El Salvador’s political parties to begin fresh dialogue

UN chief calls for ‘enlightened self-interest’ from world leaders to save ‘the whole planet’ from climate change

We underestimate the power of data at our peril. This is why

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s