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

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

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

UK keeps its Brexit plan secret or there is no strategy at all whatsoever?

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

Eating less beef and more beans would cut deaths by 5-7%

The EU Commission implicates major banks in cartel cases, threatens with devastating fines

Agreement reached on digital copyright rules

5 ways for business leaders to win in the 2020s

‘Complacency’ a factor in stagnating global vaccination rates, warn UN health chiefs

Sustainability is now mission critical for businesses. Here’s why

The US is withdrawing from a 144-year-old treaty. Here’s the context

Parliament seals ban on throwaway plastics by 2021

UN chief ‘deeply alarmed’ over military offensive in south-west Syria

EU Parliament: Follow the fraudulent money and confiscate it

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Carbon Price Needed for Climate Change Success

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

Climate change and health: an everyday solution

Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Murdered Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi during World News Media Congress 2019

Meet Alice, the battery-powered plane that could herald the age of electric air travel

Europe had a record year for Measles – and it’s partly down to anti-vaccine campaigners

EU Budget 2019 to focus on young people

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Veteran UN Syria Envoy to step down, pledges to work ‘until the last hour’ for peace

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

Sweden has invented a word to encourage people not to fly. And it’s working

France is about to start giving free breakfasts to disadvantaged schoolchildren

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

Statistics show the ugly face of youth training schemes

We had the hottest June ever this year – this is what happened around the world

Do the giant banks ‘tell’ Britain to choose a good soft Brexit and ‘remain’ or else…?

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

As monsoon rains pound Rohingya refugee camps, UN food relief agency steps up aid

Internet of Things: a Force for Good or Evil?

Strengthening the rule of law through increased awareness, an annual monitoring cycle and more effective enforcement

A Sting Exclusive: “Infrastructure can lay the groundwork for the Sustainable Development Goals” by Mr Fulai Sheng, UN Environment Senior Economist

China is sending science students to live with rural farmers – and crop yields are skyrocketing

Forget about growth without a level playing field for all SMEs

Here are 10 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspirational quotes

Fake news: What it is, and how to spot it

Finland should do more to improve job prospects of low-skilled youth

2014 budget: The EU may prove unable to agree on own resources

Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU at the Chinese Fashion Night

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Thursday’s Daily Brief: dire living conditions in Idlib, migrants at US southern border, end in sight for trachoma, Human Rights Council

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Armenia should take vigorous measures against entrenched corruption

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day

Chernobyl nuclear disaster-affected areas spring to life, 33 years on

The Dead Sea is drying up, and these two countries have a plan to save it

European Youth Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: European Youth Unemployment

Who is to pay for Trump’s trade war against China?

Is it too soon to hope for a tobacco free Romania?

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

The Schengen area is at a crossroads

The Commission neglects the services sector and favours industry

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

Draghi sees inflationary bubbles

MWC 2016 LIVE: Mobile Connect availability hits 2B

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

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