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GOVERNMENT is spending close to $1/2 millionon the studies of each Barbadian medical student at the University of the West Indies, but most of them are leaving these shores for greener pastures.
Of the 25 doctors who graduated this year, only five have been accommodated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), and supervisor of the internship programme, Dr Clyde Cave, believes this is cause for concern.
Cave, who is also an associate lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said he had interviewed the last batch of interns and it seemed that very few had plans to remain in the region.
“I don’t know if any went to the polyclinics or into private practice but in talking to them in their interviews at the end of their internship, they just wanted to write their US exams and then move onto the US,” he said.
The tuition fees for the Faculty of Medical Sciences (preclinical) is $65 845 per year for the five-year programme and $106 015 per year for the clinical programme. With the establishment of a medical faculty at the Cave Hill Campus, more than 60 aspiring doctors are enrolling each year.
Cave pointed out that the exodus of these young doctors was due in part to Barbados producing a large number of doctors “and we don’t have the capacity at the hospital to keep accommodating them”.
He added that the only other post-graduate training was the Family Medicine Programme which is operated in conjunction with the polyclinics and the hospital and only about three interns are accommodated for the four-year period.
In any event, he said he was “not a 100 per cent convinced that the people we are training from the very beginning have a desire to stay within the country or the region. I don’t even know if they should, but it would be nice to see that with all the money, resources and efforts you do get some payback”.
“I don’t have any problem with them going, if I was hopeful that they intended to specialise and come back,” he said.  “But I am not convinced that that is the plan of the majority of them.”
What might help, he said, was more dialogue between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the board at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the University of the West Indies.
Recently Dr Joseph Herbert, who won the intern of the year Award, lamented that many of his fellow interns had left the island for medical opportunities elsewhere because of a lack of opportunities here.
In an interview with THE NATION, he stated: “Almost straight off the back they were looking to train overseas and for now they’ll be lost to Barbados.
“Obviously there are better paying jobs overseas and better hours. so it’s likely they may not return and that’s a shame, especially in the case of some who may have wanted to work here because I think a lot of people wanted to give back.”

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