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Medical Board: Train local doctors to become specialists

Published: 
Saturday, August 11, 2018

Apart from temporarily hiring 250 foreign specialist doctors, the Government should consider training unemployed doctors in specialist medical fields.

So said vice president of the Medical Board Dr Varma Deyalsingh, a day after Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced that the Government will be recruiting Cuban doctors to fill specialist posts. His comments were made after the T&T Guardian did an exclusive expose which showed more than 680 fully qualified doctors have been struggling to find work since 2014, even though $.5 billion of tax payers dollars was spent on their subsidized tuition.

However, in an interview, Dr Varma Deyalsingh said a recruitment drive regionally and internationally will not be necessary if local doctors were given opportunities to train in specialist medical fields.

“If there is a need for a particular specialist in a particular field and no locals are qualified or willing to take up the post, giving foreigners temporary contracts to fill the post as well as sending nationals to specialise in the field may be necessary,” he said.

He also recommended that the unemployed doctors be given On the Job Training contracts in lieu of permanent employment. For young doctors who are not getting state jobs, Deyalsingh said they had three choices.

“They could open a private practice, as the medical board would have granted full registration upon successful completion of internship, they can try and get a job at a private hospital or look for jobs in the United Kingdom, United States, or Australia,” he said.

However, acting public relations officer of the T&T Medical Board Dr Colin Mootoo said it is not wise to go into private practice without sufficient medical experience.

“TTMA continues to be concerned about the lack of employment for qualified medical professionals, and in particular House Officers in the public sector. We estimate that there are close to 200 of our colleagues who continue to seek permanent employment,” Mootoo said.

He said since 2015, the job security historically enjoyed by the medical profession is no longer guaranteed.

“A one-year internship after graduation makes a doctor legally able to practice across the Caribbean in private institutions, and on their own in a private practice. While their internship gives them exposure to six months of Surgery and Medicine respectively, it is the opinion of the T&TMA that there may not be enough experienced garnered in this year for junior doctors to stand on their own in private practice without the support of senior input,” Mootoo added.

Saying the TTMA acknowledges the ministry’s claim that specialist Consultants are needed in 11 fields of medicine, Mootoo said, “It is lamentable that we cannot produce home-grown candidates, partly as a result of lack of employment and spaces in specialist education programmes, for our young doctors to train to become specialists in those fields.”

On Thursday, the Health Minister said RHA’s were facing difficulties sin recruiting doctors in 11 specialist areas. He also said those doctors who do not take up job offers will be asked to repay their GATE funding.

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