Oncology Training in Rwanda: Challenges and Opportunities for Undergraduate Medical Students (The EDUCAN Project)
A critical shortage of trained cancer specialists is one of the major challenges in addressing the increasing cancer burden in low- and middle-income countries. Inadequate undergraduate cancer education in oncology remains a major obstacle for both task shifting to general practitioners and for training of specialists. We provide the first report of cancer education in Rwanda’s undergraduate program to survey how new graduates are prepared to provide care for cancer patients. Anonymous online survey was sent January to June 2017 to medical students in their senior clinical years (years 5 and 6). Questions related to the demographics, medical curriculum, and general oncology exposure were included in the survey. Of 192 eligible students, 42% (n = 80) completed the survey and were analyzed. The majority were 25 to 29 years of age and 41% were female. Internal medicine was cited to provide the most exposure to cancer patients (50%) and cancer bedside teaching (55%). Close to a half (46%) have been taught oncology formally in addition to bedside teaching. A tenth (11%) of the participants felt comfortable in attending a cancer patient, and a fifth (21%) of the students felt comfortable while addressing multimodality treatment approach. The majority (99%) of the participants preferred having a formal oncology rotation. Of particular interest, 61% of the students are interested in pursuing an oncology career path. There is a need to modify the current oncology undergraduate curriculum to prepare future physicians for delivering cancer care in Rwanda. Raising the profile of oncology in undergraduate medical education will complement the on-going efforts to increase the country’s capacity in task shifting and in training of cancer specialists.
KeywordsOncology Medical students Training Rwanda
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Ethics approval was sought and obtained from the Kigali University Teaching Hospital Review Board. All participants provided electronically written informed consent prior to participation.
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