Health Ministry challenges young doctors to specialise in pathology
A shortage of pathologists has caused the local Ministry of Health to challenge recently registered doctors to take advantage of available scholarship programmes in the area of pathology.
This disclosure was made recently by Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran, who expressed concern about the lack of doctors seeking to specialise in this field.
Pathology is the science of the causes and effects of diseases, especially the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes.
According to Minister Ramsaran, “We don’t have pathologists. The oldest pathologist is 63 years old and the youngest one is just a few years younger than that. If somebody would come forward and say I want to go into that field obviously we would have to link them to that area so that they can get the grooming.”
The Minister’s remarks were forthcoming even as he congratulated the most recent batch of 21 graduate doctors, two of whom were trained in Russia and the remainder in Cuba.
Young doctors accepting the challenge could see the Health Ministry deviating from its administrative regulation which requires that doctors serve at least two and a half years before being eligible for post graduate scholarships, Dr Ramsaran said.
Doctors who are the product of scholarship programmes awarded by the government are expected to serve the country for a period of five years throughout the administrative regions.
In amplifying that the Ministry of Health is an enlightened institution and a learning organisation, the Minister said, “We provide upward professional mobility by giving young professionals other opportunities” even as he added that the health sector is always under pressure to recruit more skilled professionals.
However, while there is scope for deviation, Minister Ramsaran pointed out that this move is only possible through the discretion of the administration. “There is no obligation for me to start training you or putting you on a post graduate scholarship tomorrow or the other day.
“The administration has in place an administrative arrangement whereby you must serve at least two and a half years but it doesn’t mean that at the end of that period we will put you on a post graduate scholarship because there are other considerations.”
This consideration, the Minister said, has been linked to unfortunate developments whereby persons have absconded from their contractual obligations. “Currently there is one individual on a scholarship who has since mystic; we can’t find him. He was a truant and a constant delinquent,” said the Minister.
He made reference to instances where past scholarship beneficiaries have even absented themselves from duty, a state of affairs the Ministry will be examining very closely. “Those who stick to their guns are the ones who we see would want a second contract to serve after being trained in post graduate programmes such as surgery, gynaecology or paediatrics.”
According to the Minister once persons are allowed to join post graduate programmes, the preponderance of which are local, they will be expected to sign a further contract to serve. “If you are absorbing more resources of this country you need to serve more because you are absorbing an expensive scholarship…” the Minister quipped.
He revealed that several post graduate programmes have been introduced recently which represents “a conscientious effort by the administration to address certain needs of our young professionals who want to move upwards.”
In previous years, he noted that young doctors were not afforded many such opportunities which had caused some to migrate.
The programmes that are now being offered he said, “are not fly-by night, ‘wishie-washie’ activities; they are done in connection with international centres of excellence.”
Minister Ramsaran disclosed that several universities from overseas and several clinical centres have arrangements with Guyana, mainly through the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and the University of Guyana, to create internationally recognised programmes.
According to him young doctors should in fact, be aware of these developments in order to align plans for their further professional advancement.
“Once they complete these programmes they are expected to take their additional skills across the country and we have had some very good experiences with the product of these programmes, for example the surgeons. They have done well and even foreigners have attested to this…Not only do they bring additional skills but they also bring leadership.”
In serving, the Minister said that it is expected that young doctors ensure that they are professional in every regard insisting that they attend to patients in person rather by telephone.
“We want you to walk to patients with your chart and treat them in person not by long distance but in the way you were taught. We have had embarrassing moments and what it does is undermine the glory and authority of the Cuban School.”
Moreover, Minister Ramsaran stressed the importance of young doctors seeking to hold strict and high standards even as they seek to demand the highest professional accountability and approaches.