The Making of A Doctor: The Future of the University of Guyana Medical School
It takes a special kind of person to become a physician. Being a medical doctor involves a person with direct responsibility for the life and welfare of the patient currently under treatment.
It therefore goes without saying that any one training to practise in the field of medicine must not only be competent, capable and intelligent but must also ensure that the level of training which is imparted to them must be exceptionally thorough.
It is this training that concerns Dr. Dalgleish Joseph, Director of the University of Guyana Medical School. Dr. Joseph, appointed to the post in the last year, is lobbying for a change in the status of the School.
He explained that the medical school has been around for some 25 years and in that time it has set a tradition of excellence in academia. At present the school comes under the governance of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University and enjoys a number of benefits from that arrangement having embraced the relationship with the Faculty and by extension the University itself.
The current arrangement, Dr. Joseph stresses, has played some part in allowing the Medical School to develop its own personality and create a rich heritage of tradition. But he feels that the time has come for a change – for the University of Guyana Medical School to stand alone.
The Director is advocating a new status for the Medical School that would see the school standing independently as a School of Medicine within the University itself and having its own governance structure.
He says that after he accepted the post he was bombarded by requests from past and present students as well as other professionals in the field both locally and abroad who feel that the time has come for such a move.
Dr. Joseph noted that such a change would create room for a number of opportunities that the school is currently unable to take advantage of—opportunities such as forging strategic partnerships with institutions and organisations that will allow them to access human and capital resources that can further enrich and develop the quality of education offered by the school.
The Director noted that under the current arrangement of the school being a part of the Faculty of Health Sciences these partnerships cannot be made exclusively with the Medical School as is the apparent wish of the strategic partners.
Other opportunities come from contemporaries in the field of Medical Education, namely other Medical Schools that wish to become affiliated to the University of Guyana, School of Medicine.
Dr. Joseph took the time to share a little of his vision for the Medical School pointing out that these goals and objectives are not just going to be pursued when the School stands alone but are current and ongoing parts of the strategy for the school as it stands today.
There will be the establishment of strategic relationships as mentioned earlier with other universities and medical schools in order to facilitate the exchange of information and resources. Students can take part in exchange study programmes, lecturers and specialists can share information on a regional scale and the education of medical doctors can take on a whole new dimension as ideas are exchanged and explored through such arrangements.
The Director spoke of the expansion of the programme offerings at the Undergraduate Level and eventually at the Post Graduate Level. There are intentions of introducing programmes such as Infectious Diseases at both levels, while a programme that looks at Drug Education centered on drug use will be introduced at the Undergraduate Level.
There are also plans to take into account infrastructural needs of the School. Dr. Joseph said that the School needs to develop the infrastructure that will allow for more laboratories and other facilities such as classrooms to satisfy the increasing demand for quality medical education. These will also play a part in allowing the school to attract, retain and develop a quality faculty – an essential part of planning the school’s future.
He said that the intent is to develop a core faculty that understands their role in the perspective of education and leadership. He noted that the faculty to be recruited will have to consist of persons who are experts and able lecturers in their fields of specialty.
They should also be excellent role models. And in order to keep that caliber of faculty, the Medical School will need funding, not only for the sake of emoluments but also to facilitate research because for the best and brightest in any field, especially those that have chosen to enter academia, research into advancing their chosen discipline is a must.
Curriculum Development is another focus point in the strategic plan for the Medical School. According to the Director there will be a position created for the maintenance and growth of this aspect of this Medical School affairs.
He stressed that there is a need for an aggressive approach to chasing down the changes in the fields that are under the Medical School’s watch. The dynamic nature of the field of medicine calls for such an approach since it will be a prerequisite in keeping the curriculum up to date and relevant thereby allowing for the shaping of the best doctors the country can produce.
This is another area where the information exchanges as a result of the strategic partnerships will have a positive impact.
And of course Dr. Joseph has not forgotten what he says are the best assets of the schools – the students. He says that the steep entry requirements of the school play a role in the finished product of the School, since as he puts it, if you have good coming in then there will be better going out.
Student issues such as welfare, health, academic performance are all going to be considered in the plans of the School. There will be, he notes an Administrator, to address these issues at the School and to intercede on the behalf of the students when necessary.
Continuous development of the student mentorship programme as well as provisions for the admission of differently able persons are also a part of the plan. In terms of Career Development, there are several areas of the student curriculum that the Director notes will be receiving attention in the near future whether for further development or addition to the curriculum.
These include but are not limited to Health Care Cost, Attitude of Preventing Resource Wastage, Safety in Care (both patient and doctor) and Justice and Equity in Health Care Delivery. Medical Ethics and Law with a special emphasis on the comprehension of informed consent will also be considered along with Teamwork and Accountability.