Health sciences students’ contribution to human resources for health strategy: A rural health careers day for grade 12 learners in the North West Province of South Africa
South Africa (SA) has made significant strides towards ensuring that the profile of learners admitted to its eight medical schools reflects the demographics of the country. Yet, despite these efforts, SA is still plagued by human-resource challenges within the health sector, with the majority of healthcare professionals preferring to work in urban areas. The Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education (WIRHE) scholarship is one of the programmes that was established by the Centre for Rural Health (CRH) as a response to the workforce challenges facing rural areas of SA. This programme provides opportunities to students from previously disadvantaged rural communities to register for professional degrees offered by the faculties of health sciences at any of the three medical schools in Gauteng Province: the universities of the Witwatersrand, Pretoria and Sefako Makgatho (previously Medunsa). As such, the launching of the first Rural Careers Day in the North West Province was informed by the experiences of managing the WIRHE scholarship programme, which highlighted the challenges faced by students from rural communities who try to gain access to institutions of higher education. This report describes the Wits CRH experience of organising a student-led rural health careers day as a pilot project, and an evaluation thereof based on the experiences of the participating students and learners.
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