Distance learning approach to train health sciences students at the University of Nairobi
Background: The University of Nairobi (UoN) College of Health Sciences (CHS) established Partnership for Innovative Medical Education in Kenya (PRIME-K) programmeme to enhance health outcomes in Kenya through extending the reach of
medical training outside Nairobi to help health sciences students enhance their handson skills. The institution partnered with 18 hospitals in rural and urban centers as the UoN teaching hospitals referred to as decentralised training sites and appointed medical staff from these sites as adjunct faculty of the University of Nairobi to train health sciences students on hands-on skills. Webcasts presentations were conducted by undergraduate students from all the schools at the College of Health Sciences during their elective term and clinical rotations at the decentralised training sites to present on the ground health issues.
Objective: To describe how the University of Nairobi (UoN) used the distance learning platform from the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant to outspread medical education to the underserved communities located in rural and urban surroundings across the country.
Design: A cross-sectional study
Setting: The University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences
Subjects: Health Sciences students of the College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi and Hospital staff in 18 hospitals in rural and urban centers
Results: A total of 670 health sciences students participated in the decentralised learning, a total of 549 health sciences students participated in webcast presentations over a period of four years from 2012 to 2015, and a total of 48 medical consultants and specialists from the decentralised training sites were appointed as Adjunct Faculty of the College of Health Sciences – University of Nairobi.
Conclusion: Webcast presentations provided information on priority health conditions afflicting the communities at the decentralised sites which would not be the case in the institution’s teaching hospital. Adjunct faculty at the decentralised training sites provided a platform enabling students to enhance their practical skills in line of health profession and offered mentorship on coping in rural settings where there is scarcity of medical equipment and disposable materials in the health facilities and lack of constant electric power supply and clean water among others