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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

Abstract

MONARENG, V L; WOLVAARDT, J E; BAC, M  and  WEBB, E M. Practice choices of clinical associates: Policy realisation or practical reality?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.10, pp.761-764. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/samj.2019.v109i10.14052.

BACKGROUND. The Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (BCMP) programme was introduced in South Africa as a strategy to fill human resource gaps in both the public sector and rural communities. A previous study explored the practice intentions of BCMP students from one university prior to graduation. OBJECTIVES. To determine whether the actual practice choices of these BCMP graduates reflect their practice intentions. METHODS. A cross-sectional analytical study invited all graduates from the four cohorts of BCMP graduates (N=250) who graduated during the period 2011 - 2014 to complete an online survey. Data were exported and analysed using Stata 13. Chi-square tests of independence were done to explore associations in the data. RESULTS. More than 80% of participants were currently employed in the public sector, with over 50% in rural settings. Factors such as where clinical associates spent most of their lives (i.e. where they were born and raised) and bursary obligations influenced their current practice choices. There was no association between gender and rural practice choice. Intention to emigrate was not associated with origin, gender or race. Almost 90% of participants indicated an interest in furthering their studies; 46% of these intended a change in career, with 65% interested in studying medicine. CONCLUSIONS. The practice choices of the first four cohorts of this degree were similar to their intended practice choices. Although the policy intentions of public sector employment and rural practice have been met, it is not clear what will happen once bursary obligations are fulfilled. The reasons for increased intentions to change career need further research, as a change of career would countermand gains achieved in implementing the policy.

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