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Videoconference-based education for psychiatry registrars at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

J Chipps
S Ramlall
M Mars


Objective: Psychiatry registrars form the backbone of specialized psychiatric service provision in South Africa. Medical schools are centralized while clinical services need to be widespread and accessible. Video-conferencing has the potential to link registrars at satellite hospitals with academic centers. The study thus evaluated of the use of videoconferencing in a Psychiatry Education Program delivered via videoconferencing. Method: To evaluate the implementation of the videoconference-based psychiatry registrar program, a pre- and post evaluative design was used. This involved all registrars in the 2008 and 2009 academic education program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Access to education, satisfaction, suitability and costs of the psychiatry registrar education were studied. Results: In the evaluation of the Registrar Program, general satisfaction with the videoconferencing program was reported, though concerns were expressed about the level of interaction using this mode, the quality of the transmitted pictures of the anatomy specimens and the quality of the sound. Access to education was improved with potential cost savings identified. Conclusion: Well supported and planned videoconference-based teaching is a feasible, cost-effective and acceptable method of supporting registrars at sites distant from academic centers.

Keywords: Videoconferencing; Psychiatry; Education; South Africa

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eISSN: 1994-8220