Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands stated that 40 of the 49 graduates of The University of the West Indies (UWI) School of Medicine (Nassau) were offered training opportunities (Internship) based primarily at the teaching hospital, Princess Margaret (PMH.) “These 40 graduates were ranked based on an objective scoring system, which included nationality, academic achievement, transcript review, performance in their final examinations (honours, distinctions,) research, and the results of an interview performed by a panel of senior medical educators,” Dr. Sands said during his Communication in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Dr. Sands said while there has not been an offer of employment to the other nine, the Ministry has been actively engaged with regional partners to identify accredited training programs.
He explained that Internship (the first year of medical apprenticeship after completion of the medical degree) is essential for the preparation and licensure of medical graduates. “This foundational year, combined with varied training programs lasting anywhere from two to seven additional years (after the internship year) allow a new physician to become adequately trained to manage the increasingly complex challenges of community medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, public health and Epidemiology, etc.” The Health Minister said at the time of last accreditation by the regional verification body, PMH was approved to train 28 doctors at the internship level. “We are still accredited to train 28. That accreditation attests to the presence of adequate supervising faculty, library and teaching spaces, on-call rooms, clinical cases and dedicated time to nurture and guide young clinicians in their formative years.”
He said while there is a necessary and important clinical skills component to the internship, which is a grueling and demanding rite of passage for all that have completed it, it is primarily an educational year that establishes the foundation for safe, evidenced-based practice over the career of a doctor. Dr. Sands said interns cannot and obviously should not practice independently. They are provisionally licensed, and clinical decisions and actions are supervised. He noted that since 1997, students from around the world (63 in the first year, 50 from Manipal, India, and 13 Caribbean nationals) have trained at the 450-bed PMH. “That program has evolved. The ‘twinning’ program with Manipal was concluded, and we now have our own campus of UWI in The Bahamas.” Dr. Sands said Bahamian students training at the UWI campuses in Mona, Jamaica, Cave Hill, Barbados and St. Augustine, Trinidad now elect to complete the final two years of the five-year medical training program in Nassau. He said, “This year we anticipate another group of 48 final-year-students to complete UWI alone, and as many as 20 others in various countries around the world.”