Surgical skills deficiencies and needs of rural general practitioners in South Africa
Background. At present, much of the global surgical workforce consists of non-specialist physicians (general practitioners (GPs)) whose only formal surgical training was in medical school as an undergraduate. However, there is widespread concern that GPs do not have the skills necessary to deliver essential surgical care in a rural setting. This requires that a specific training programme be developed to train rural GPs in essential surgical skills for rural settings.
Objectives. To perform a critical analysis to determine essential surgical skills required by GPs in rural South Africa, with the intention of developing the content of an accredited continuing professional development (CPD) learning programme to address needs identified.
Methods. This was a descriptive study in which a desk-top review analysis and a questionnaire survey were used to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data on essential skills required for rural surgical practice.
Results. Of 300 GPs, 102 (34.0%) completed the questionnaire. Some of the skills listed as essential for rural surgical practice were removal of foreign objects not in the visual axis (90.0%), packing of epistaxis (93.0%), haematoma drainage (78.3%) and wound debridement and suturing (96.0%). The study also identified the outcomes and essential content of a proposed CPD programme to provide GPs in the rural setting with the required surgical skills.
Conclusions. Enhancing skills of GPs in essential surgical techniques and procedures through an accredited CPD short learning programme will ensure that adequate and comprehensive essential surgical care is provided to people living in rural communities.
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