SETTING: The Collaboration for Health Equity through Education
and Research (CHEER) was formed in 2003 to examine strategies
that would increase the production of health professionals who
choose to practise in rural and under-served areas in South Africa.
Objectives. We aimed to identify how each faculty is preparing its
students for service in rural or under-served areas.
METHODS: Peer reviews were conducted at all nine participating
universities. A case study approach was used, with each peer review
constituting its own study but following a common protocol and
tools. Each research team comprised at least three reviewers from
different universities, and each review was conducted over at least
3 days on site.
The participating faculties were assessed on 11 themes, including
faculty mission statements, resource allocation, student selection,
first exposure of students to rural and under-served areas, length of
exposure, practical experience, theoretical input, involvement with
the community, relationship with the health service, assessment of
students and research and programme evaluation.
RESULTS: With a few exceptions, most themes were assessed as
inadequate or adequate with respect to the preparation of students
for practice in rural or under-served areas after qualification,
despite implicit intentions to the contrary at certain faculties.
CONCLUSIONS: Common challenges, best practices and potential
solutions have been identified through this project. Greater priority
must be given to supporting rural teaching sites in terms of
resources and teaching capacity, in partnership with government