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South African Medical Journal

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Success of a scholarship scheme for rural students

A J Ross

Abstract




Background. Mosvold Hospital is one of 5 district hospitals providing care for 555 000 indigent people in the Umkhanyakude district, northern KwaZulu-Natal. Recruitment
of professional staff is an ongoing challenge for hospital management. An innovative, locally based scholarship scheme, the Friends of Mosveld Scholarship Scheme (FOMSS), was
established in 1998 to: (i) identify and fund local scholars admitted to a tertiary facility to study health science courses;
(ii) support these students at university or technikon; and
(iii) ensure that graduates were integrated into the workforce
within the district.
Objectives. To determine the perceptions of FOMSS-supported graduates with regard to the factors leading to success at university/technical college.
Method. All graduates from the 1999 - 2002 cohort of students awarded a scholarship by the FOMSS were invited to participate. Focus group discussions or free-attitude interviews
were conducted, followed by a self-administered questionnaire.
Results. Twenty-four students from Umkhanyakude district supported by the FOMSS have graduated. Eighteen are working in the district, 1 has died, 2 have completed their
contract time, 1 is doing further studies and 2 are completing their internships. Factors contributing to their success include personal motivation, support at university, and holiday work experience.
Conclusions. Despite educational challenges, students from rural areas are able to succeed at tertiary institutions and will return to work in rural districts. District hospitals can play an
important role in the selection and support of students of rural origin.

South African Medical Journal Vol. 97 (11) 2007: pp. 1087-1090



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