African Journal of Health Professions Education

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The Umthombo Youth Development Foundation, South Africa: Lessons towards community involvement in health professional education

L M Campbell, A J Ross, R G MacGregor


Background. Internationally, the development of partnerships between institutions of higher learning and the communities they serve is stressed as a priority. The Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF) is an educational model developed in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa as a response to the scarcity of medical personnel in hospitals. Community involvement in health professional education has become a key strategy in the model, and review of the model may provide lessons for other educators towards implementing community involvement in health professional education.
Objective. To review the UYDF, with emphasis on aspects of community involvement.
Methods. This qualitative study used a social accountability theoretical framework. Data were collected using the Appreciative Inquiry method and participants who were involved in the UYDF model were interviewed. Themes arising around community involvement were generated inductively.
Results. Community involvement in health professional education grew from a funding requirement and has strengthened over time to become an integral component of the UYDF model. Community involvement occurred mainly at the student selection process, but continued during education and after graduation. Participants suggested means by which community involvement could be strengthened.
Conclusion. The UYDF successfully presents a model that facilitates community involvement in health professional education. Lessons learnt could guide other models, and the UYDF model could be strengthened by further research.
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