Medical graduates facing dire situation

The original article can be found in: The Barbados Advocate By Kerri Gooding

THE future seems unnerving for the slew of new doctors who recently graduated from the Medical Sciences Faculties across the three University of the West Indies campuses and for those yet to graduate as well.

In light of the present set of unfortunate circumstances, Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Internship Co-ordinator, Dr. Clyde Cave, could only say that the situation does not look better for those to come. Dr. Cave said, “We’re in for a rough period.”

Yesterday, what should have been a moment of sheer jubilation for outstanding interns Dr. Addison St. John, Dr. Ciel Harris, Dr. Dana Forde, Dr. Kymberly Jones and Intern of the Year, Dr. Jomario Skeete, was instead one of sobriety.

This year’s QEH outstanding interns and the intern of the year are at the top of their class after their rotations, yet even they are trying to remain hopeful in the absence of readily available placement.

The plight of the graduates is daunting as only 36 are fortunate enough to gain an internship with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and of those, very few receive posts which, for many interns including the outstanding five, end this August and September.

Dr. Cave said that the number of internship places are fixed at 36 and not just because of funding, which he sincerely hopes is not reduced because of the current fiscal situation, but more so because that figure is “ideal for training given the hospital’s size, patients and available spots for supervision can best accommodate”.

He then explained further that the challenge goes beyond attaining the internship and extends into the period – post internship. He lamented, “Once they finish their internship, you then have to move on to a speciality or sub-speciality training and that is usually done by getting a hospital job and entering a university programme, a DM – the Doctor’s of Medicine programme at the University of the West Indies of which several are available here, because we are a teaching hospital. Problem is that there are service jobs and university positions with the programme, so now that they have completed their internship, getting either a paying-service job or a university position in an academic programme, because the two of them are interdependent, is very difficult for them.”

Dr. Cave admitted that this a complicated situation, which has been foreseen and will only get worse. He said this upcoming year will see the first set of interns who have studied completely at Cave Hill campus and that is 40 graduates. He said next year will be 70 and in three years it will be in the 90s and that is not including Barbadians studying at the Trinidad and Jamaica campuses.

Then he further pointed out that from the whole University of the West Indies, there will be more medical graduates in the near future. He said, “Jamaica and Trinidad have both increased the numbers in their medical schools; it is not just here. I believe within a few years’ time, we will be looking at something like 500 to 600 doctors a year being graduated, which is a large number for the region to absorb.”

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