Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Designing for impact: Achieving a more integrated approach to health professions education through integrating policies, training strategies and institutional collaboration.

A co-hosted session (PS 3.3) in the main programme of the Prince Mahidol Award conference, Thailand, January 2014.

Professor David Sanders
, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa will be chairing this co-hosted WHO session and is looking to have a strong focus on the strategy of Primary Health Care and its imperatives for health workforce development in the 21st century.

Over the course of this week we will feature blogs from the four session speakers, who will present country case studies, which explore the implications for and innovations in education and training of health professionals and associate professionals, as well as the necessary policies and institutional arrangements.

- Dr Antony Matsika, Zimbabwe; Training medical students in rural locations in Zimbabwe

- Lola Dare Identifying gaps around skills mix and the potential roles of community-based health workers

- Professor Hitoshi Sohma, Japan; An integrated and interprofessional approach

- Dr Wanapa Sritanyarat, Thailand;Organizational arrangements in Thailand, including policy arrangements to ensure appropriate and relevant training


Transformational education seeks to ensure that the health workforce of the 21st century is well poised to take advantage of the innovations to respond to the changing epidemiological patterns and social determinants of health and well-being.

It is important to ensure that the ‘new’ health workforce responds to the diversity in health systems needs and structure. New not in the sense of introducing new cadres, but rather the effective and sustainable use of existing health workforce within an academic systems model as recommended by the Global Independent Commission for education of health professionals’ for 21st century.

The mid-level and community health workforce provides an important contribution to health services and care delivery, particularly in underserved areas. In this role they are increasingly expected to serve the complex and diverse needs of communities. A priority should be to strengthen the health workforce through the appropriate and effective supervisory and service linkages between health professional, mid level and community health workforce.

This will require achieving a more integrated approach to health professions education, including training strategies. Dr Antony Maksika, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences will profile their field education programme for 2, 3 and 5th year medical students, looking at the success factors and challenges of their work at Murehwa and Howards Mission Hospital.

Decentralized training institutions in areas of greatest health need offers a rapid or “whole workforce” approach to educating and orientating the health workforce towards the community, which can work alongside traditional models. This approach would increase engagement and integration of frontline community health workforce in both education and service systems.

Professor Hitoshi Sohma will provide a brief overview of the Hokkaido Prefecture in Japan and its similarities to other countries experiencing shortages of health workers / health professionals. The Sapporo Medical University interprofessional education programme involves the departments of Medicine, Nursing, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. A key element of the University’s approach has been the evaluation of needs of community with regard to design and development of interprofessional programme. Professor Hitoshi Sohma will discuss results in terms of i. improving education and service, ii. understanding and establishing effective and appropriate supervisory and service linkages between health professionals, mid-level and community health workers.

Selection of students from communities of greatest need, locating training in those communities, adapting curriculum, skills training and career development to local context are approaches that seek to enhance retention of health workers based in the community in line with WHO guidelines. Here civil society has an important role to play, in identifying gaps, particularly around skills mix in support of universal health coverage. Session speaker Lola Dare will address how civil society could contribute to addressing those gaps, including their social mobilising role.

A key aspect of the sessions discussion will be the focus on service and settings, not cadres and definitions (ie. form follows function), so as to highlight how co-operation and dialogue between health professionals, mid-level providers and community health workers improves both education and service.

Dr Wanapa Sritanyarat will present the organizational arrangements in Thailand, including policy arrangements to ensure the delivery of appropriate and relevant education and training. He will pose and seek to answer several questions,

- what were the key success factors with regard to securing professional commitment for reform toward the goal of health promotion in Thailand  ?

- How have partnerships empowered leadership in promoting health for societies, especially at the organizational and professional levels?

- What has been the impact and outcomes in terms of HPNN strategy to create of health promoting societies? has this approach enabled effective supervisory and service linkages between health professionals, mid-level providers and community health workforce (including community leaders/ key actors)?


Add a comment and follow the discussion tomorrow with Dr Antony Matsika’s blog post.


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