I am writing in response to Adeline Mutegarugoli’s claim in The New Times of
January 18 that sixth year medical students at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) are unable to start internship because of lack of facilitation from the university. This assertion was false and baseless.
Prior to 2009, the Ministry of Health used to pay each intern a monthly stipend of Rwf 135, 000. However, the sixth year students (Doc IV) are no longer considered interns by the Ministry of Health since 2009. Internship is now done after the sixth year and is therefore no longer the responsibility of the NUR, but the Rwanda Medical Council and the Ministry of Health. The sixth year is now purely a senior clerkship year under the NUR.
At present, students undertake practical training in the four major disciplines of Surgery, Internal Medicine, Paediatrics and Obstetrics-Gynecology. Each rotation is 10 weeks. The clerkships are done in Butare (CHUB), Kigali (CHUK, KFH) and occasionally Kanombe and Ruhengeri hospitals.
The clerkship prepares the students for clinical responsibilities to be faced as interns and medics after graduation. The students participate in the daily clinical management of the patients and are on call with their seniors. The facilitation required by the students in not very different from that given to other students undertaking field work or clerkship attachments except for access to meals in the hospital and a restroom while on duty. This is being negotiated with the different Teaching Hospitals.
All University students were aware of the start of the academic year on January 10, 2011 and so it should not have been a surprise that they had to start the year. In addition, all the said students were aware that they had been promoted to the next year and knew the nature of training undertaken.
Moreover, all students in higher learning institutions are aware of the Government’s position on student bursary starting with this year. I do not think the NUR administration deserves the blame for this since we access budget support from the treasury like all other higher learning institutions.
Concerning failure rates, there were 59 candidates, one of whom fell ill at the time of examinations, leaving 58 to sit for the examinations. The examinations were conducted between November 22 and December 3, 2010. There were external examiners in every department. These were drawn from the University of Kwazulu Natal and Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Makerere University (Uganda) and the University of Nairobi (Kenya).
The failure rates for the first sitting by the 58 candidates were as follows:
·Internal Medicine: 16 (27.6%)
·Obstetrics-Gynecology: 24 (41.4%)
·Paediatrics: 29 (50%)
·Surgery: 33 (56.9%)
The second sitting is underway and the results will be out soon. The final position will be known then.
The NUR Faculty of Medicine has undertaken several initiatives to improve quality of medical education and hence effectively provide a competent resource to the Rwandan Health Sector.
The initiatives include the training of the faculty staff in current methods and practices in medical higher education, expansion of collaborations with renowned Medical schools and Universities in and out of Africa, provision of reference books to all clinical year students, improved student supervision with the use of logbooks, student placements at other medical schools such as Makerere University, University of Nairobi and Jefferson University.
National University of Rwanda (NUR)
Office of the Rector / Head of Public Relations Office
Phone: +250 78 8 56 38 80 or +250 72 8 56 38 80*