‘We Must Do Better For Young Doctors’

Dr Duane Sands, Minister of Health. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Dr Duane Sands, Minister of Health. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff


Tribune Staff Reporter


AS some junior doctors express concern for their future, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands admitted yesterday officials must do a better job at developing young doctors.

His statement followed a Tribune article that highlighted the experience of a doctor who said he dropped out of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) post-graduate programme only to succeed as a doctor in the United Kingdom.

Dr Young Sing blamed poor feedback from lecturers and alleged bias for the low matriculation rates of UWI’s Doctor of Medicine programmes.

Dr Sing’s views reflect those of many junior doctors in the public healthcare system.

“For whatever reason young physicians are not able to progress through the institutions as well as we would like and certainly what it means is we ought to make whatever adjustments are necessary to assist and to mentor and to develop these young physicians,” Dr Sands said.

“Relying on historical anecdotes might make people warm and fuzzy but it does’t change the current reality. As we start to look at what types of things that ought to happen I think we need to revise our programmes, make a decision on how many people we will be taking going forward, make sure we are providing proper feedback, coaching and evaluations and where people are not performing they need to be alerted to that fact early. We have to design a system where we hold not only students accountable but ourselves, the teachers. Like everything in this country there is a need for radical reform.”

Dr Sands was speaking about doctors operating under the guidance of consultants in the public healthcare system.

As for UWI specifically, he said: “While the majority of Bahamian medical students train through the UWI programme and a majority of residents train through a programme at UWI, we do not dictate to UWI what they should do. We need to make our facilities responsive to the needs of our students even as we advocate for changes at the university level. What that also means is that the University of the Bahamas will now need to look at its own medical school.

Dr Sands continued: “Just as we’ve moved away from a reliance on Scottish, British and Canadian medical schools, it is probably time to wean ourselves and cut the umbilical cord from UWI, not saying that it should happen this year or next year but in our national development the idea that we should accomplish self sufficiency and can accomplish self sufficiency makes a lot of sense. We may choose to partner with another institution and there are some proposals on the table to do that. UWI, it must be said, has singlehandedly produced the vast majority of practitioners in this country but it is not the only institution. There has been an historic tension, a UWI non-UWI rivalry if you would. The easiest narrative is to suggest that because I am not a UWI graduate I don’t understand it. I don’t know that argument holds a whole lot of water. What is most important is that we acknowledge the need to develop our human resources to its maximum potential.”

UWI is considered the traditional route through which regional doctors have obtained expertise leading to their independent practice certifications; however, criticisms come against the backdrop of impending changes within the public healthcare system.

Some junior doctors will be chosen for a residency programme within a medical department this month. Those who do not make the cut will be mandated to participate in a “foundation programme” gearing them toward private practice. Those who fail the programme or its final exam could be pushed out of the profession. Junior doctors fear the worst characteristics of UWI’s programmes will define the foundation programme as well. 

The planned changes are a response to provisions of the Medical Council Act 2014, which mandate that doctors receive specialized training or participate in supervised rotational programmes to qualify for independent practice licenses.


Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 3 days ago

The sad truth: The vast majority of our best and brightest young Bahamian MDs are not UWI trained and are able to take up much better paying positions offered in their chosen medical fields by the developed countries. And the same applies to our best and brightest young nurses. Our politicians are well aware of this fact and it is the reason why they high-tail-it to the U.S. whenever they themselves are stricken with a major medical problem of any kind.


Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

There will always be outliers ......... but that never changes the norm. As for Bush, I must beg to differ ..... he was truly one of the worst presidents the U.S. ever had and was singularly responsible for nearly $8 trillion being added to the national debt of the U.S., with a little help from his father's friends, namely Cheney and Rumsfeld.


ThisIsOurs 1 week, 2 days ago

It's almost laughable. I thought of the perfect analogy. It's like someone saying I failed the ?Navy Seal program, they wasted two years of my life, I left and trained for the cross fit games on won. Does it follow that the Navy Seals has a crappy training program? No. You just didn't make the cut.


hrysippus 1 week, 3 days ago

Can we correctly infer the governments washing it's hands, . . . ...
From the ministerial pronouncements of Doctor Duane Sands, . . . . If junior doctors' advancement is being held back, . . . . ....... It is not being caused by Ministry slack, . . . . ... The doctors allege that it's the lecturers' fault, . . . . . ... Showing prejudice with this academic assault, . . . . ..... Not liking doctors with an accent different to theirs, . . . . ........ Putting thing this bias before better hospital care, . . . . . ........ So even these people who seem to be smart, . . . . . ..... .. Are holding the Nation back by playing this part, . . . . .. .. And is this why Big Bad Brad thought he might have something to fear, ''''' .
And flew off to Miami rather than be treated here?


ThisIsOurs 1 week, 2 days ago

I don't understand the doctors who claim they're not being taught anything. It's wonderful if you're able to learn from someone who knows more than you, that's the best feeling in the world. but at some point you have to realize, wait a minute, I'm not learning anything and "I" have an exam, "I" need to form a study group with some other students or "I" need to study on my own.


ThisIsOurs 1 week, 2 days ago

"UWI is considered the traditional route through which regional doctors have obtained expertise leading to their independent practice certifications; however, criticisms come against the backdrop of impending changes within the public healthcare syst"

Please separate which campus these lacking "UWI" students are at, I'm willing to bet you will find the lack is largely among those trained through the BAHAMIAN program. The Doctors who recently told us that they don't need to come to the hospital for the mandated 20 hours per week, they can carry out all of their job responsibilities via phone call.


joeblow 1 week, 2 days ago

People might be amazed at the number of UWI trained doctors who hold high posts throughout the US, Canada and Europe (just talking with a few doctors confirmed that).

UWI is not the real problem, from what I understand the problem is with the local UWI program which does not properly train and prepare physicians for practice because many affiliated with that program are too busy with their private practices to teach properly. And based on Dr Sing's comments while they are being failed here for dubious reasons they are being accepted in first world medical facilities without a problem. So where does the real problem lie?

What is Dr Sand's interest in self sufficiency and starting a program at UOB when the hospital can't even keep certain medications in stock? Something smells fishy here!


sheeprunner12 1 week, 1 day ago

The young doctors are facing a glass ceiling ........... but almost every Bahamian institution has a glass ceiling .......... The PLP is the best example.


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