A peer evaluation of the community-based education programme for medical students at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences: A southern African Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) collaboration
Background. The University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZCHS), Harare, which has a long tradition of community-based education (CBE), has not been evaluated since 1991. An innovative approach was used to evaluate the programme during 2015.
Objectives. To evaluate the CBE programme, using a peer-review model of evaluation and simultaneously introducing and orientating participating
colleagues from other medical schools in southern Africa to this review process.
Methods. An international team of medical educators, convened through the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, worked collaboratively to modify an existing peer-review assessment method. Data collection took the form of pre-visit surveys, on-site and field-visit interviews with key informants, a review of supporting documentation and a post-review visit.
Results. All 5 years of the medical education curriculum at UZCHS included some form of CBE that ranged from community exposure in the 1st year to district hospital-based clinical rotations during the clinical years. Several strengths, including the diversity of community-based activities and the availability of a large teaching platform, were identified. However, despite the expression of satisfaction with the programme, the majority of students indicated that they do not plan to work in rural areas in Zimbabwe. Several key recommendations were offered, central to which was strengthening the academic co-ordination of the programme and curriculum renewal in the context of the overall MB ChB curriculum.
Conclusion. This evaluation demonstrated the value of peer review to bring a multidimensional, objective assessment to a CBE programme.