The Network: Towards Unity for Health (The Network: TUFH) 2010 Conference was held November 13-17 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The theme of this year’s conference was “Advancing Quality through Partnerships of Health Professions Education and Health Services Institutions.” Participating institutions and individuals had opportunities to share approaches and innovations with each other through: a workshop that invited them to reflect on their stories through appreciative inquiry, led by Thomas Chacko (PHIL 2004) and Marina Thomas (IFME 2004); another that encouraged involvement of students in change management, led by Rashmi Vyas (PHIL 2003), Anshu (CMCL 2007, PHIL 2009), and Payal Bansal (PHIL 2007); as well as one on use of standardized patients in student assessment, led by Jack Boulet, Associate Vice President for Research and Data Resources. FAIMER Fellows Shital Bhandary (PSG 2008) and Shambhu Upadhyay (GSMC 2009) organized a visit to Patan Academy of Health Sciences, where participants walked through the problem-based learning rooms and viewed the communications center where rural doctors phone in consultations. Attendees also had an opportunity to participate in a post-conference excursion to B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan, Nepal, a more rural setting featuring strong community-based programs.
More than 30 FAIMER faculty, staff, and Fellows participated in the conference, serving as conference organizers, presenters, workshop facilitators, and discussants. Two Fellows, Sarah Kiguli (PHIL 2004) and Francisco (Pacho) Lamus Lemus (PHIL 2009), are also members of The Network: TUFH Executive Committee. FAIMER Associate Vice President for Education and Co-Director of the FAIMER Institute William P. Burdick gave one of four keynote presentations, entitled “The Link between Health Professions Education and Health.” Dinesh Badyal (PHIL 2009) received the award for best poster for “Profile of Participants in a National Faculty Development Program in India.” Dr. Anshu remarked after returning from the conference that, “It was wonderful to see such a large gathering of FAIMER Fellows from around the world” and it “felt nice to see most posters reflect the FAIMER philosophy.”
Organized by 2009 CMCL-FAIMER Regional Institute Fellow Angel Magar through the Nepal Medical Association, a meeting on medical education in Nepal was held June 28, 2009, in Kathmandu. Entitled “National Consultative Meeting on Undergraduate vs. Postgraduate’s Seats: Rationale, Challenges and Future Prospective in Nepal,” the meeting addressed the imbalance between the number of medical graduates (approximately 2,000) in Nepal per year and the number of postgraduate seats (approximately 375) available to them. Dr. Magar explained that “with the introduction of privatization in the early 1990s, medical education in Nepal took a giant leap in terms of opening new medical colleges,” but that a corresponding growth in the number of positions for graduates has not materialized. Some physicians may pursue careers outside of Nepal, but Dr. Magar points out that the backlog of unplaced physicians may be growing by as much as 1,500 per year, and that “if Nepal doesn’t address the issue in time, there might be a catastrophe in this field.” More than 72 stakeholders took part in the meeting, including representatives from Nepal’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Higher Technical Committee, Planning Commission, and Medical Council, as well as principals, deans, and vice chancellors from Nepal’s colleges, a representative from the World Health Organization, and other Nepalese medical educationists.
All participants in the meeting agreed that there is a need for change in Nepal’s medical education system, and they resolved on the following recommendations:
Increase the number of postgraduate positions by 40% (at least for the short term).
Establish a Medical Education Bureau to govern the medical education system in Nepal.
Introduce a licensing examination for undergraduates and postgraduates to ensure quality.
Institute a common entrance examination.
The Nepal Medical Association will forward these recommendations to the concerned authorities and institutions and will continue to advocate for the changes.
Dr. Magar credits Open University’s Distance Learning Resources for Medical Education program for giving him the inspiration and tools to tackle the issues in his home country. Developed by FAIMER and the World Federation for Medical Education in collaboration with Open University Centre for Education in Medicine in the United Kingdom, the Distance Learning Resources for Medical Education program was created with the understanding that medical education needs worldwide could not be met using conventional training courses. The program includes a series of distance learning modules that focuses on accreditation and standards for medical education institutions with an emphasis on finding practical ways of dealing with their local circumstances.