Medical Students Cry Out
Open letter to Hon. Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit
The joy of every parent is to see their child grow, become educated and attain important positions in life, providing the opportunity to influence change in the lives of siblings, friends and by extension society. It is also expected that this child will, in turn, extend the same opportunity to the younger generation.
My case of focus is the medical field, which we all know comprises of the health care system, health care workers and the health care student.
1) Let's begin from the root (the student)
The island can boast of two medical institutions - Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) and All Saints University.
2) Starting with RUSM, predominantly noted only the rich, well-connected or influential kids of Dominica's elite families benefit from the scholarship offered by this institution.
On the other hand, at least two Dominican students are admitted into the All Saints University every year. As of 2013, the largest group of Dominican students received white coats signifying the completion of basic sciences which is the first three years of a five year programme. Presently there are five students undergoing basic sciences at the institution.
It is sad to know that of the 15 students who are meant to have graduated sometime this year and few more years before, they are unable to do so as a result of lack of financial aid and lack of promised support by the Government. Upon detailed interviews with some of the Dominican students, they all stated that they were given 50% scholarship assistance from All Saints and another 50% to be provided by Government of Dominica.
All Saints University has kept its end of the bargain with the Dominican students; however, the same cannot be said for the Government of Dominica. Many of the students also stated that they were not aware of this discrepancy until they were ready to transition into the final phase of clinical rotations which lasts for a period of two years.
It was sad to know that many of these students have been away from school for a period of two to four years awaiting the promised financial aid promised by the Government. Some have applied for student loans but have not been successful since they do not meet the criteria needed to acquire such funds, such as lack of collateral particularly the Kalinago students, who as we all know do not own land. A few of these students were able to start rotations through their own personal means which is an excellent and noteworthy initiative on their part.
Although many of the students have sought employment, it is sad to mention that these jobs cannot sustain them fully much less to help them save towards their tuition.
It is not only depressing to see their colleagues from Nigeria, Canada, USA ,India, Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and many more proceed to become full-fledged doctors while they become invisible and irrelevant to persons of power and influence who promised to assist in them in achieving their dreams.
Upon enquiry whether contact was made with the Prime Minister, quite a few responded that they have tried many times over but have been told that it's either he is at meetings or is off island conducting personal/government business. Some have resorted to writing many letters and have been directed from one department/ministry of Government to the other, each stating that that the other department/ministry is responsible and finally; the Prime minister is the one who has to give the approval.
All of these students are of excellent academic standing, unfortunately it seems like the government has forgotten about these individuals and their plight. The assistance is now seriously needed by them in their most crucial time. Quite a few of these students even went to the point of seeking assistance from the Parliamentary Opposition and again empty promises were made - the constant never ending excuses and political fights which continues to tear the people apart. This situation doesn't necessitate a political fight between parties; this is a cry for help where it is desperately needed.
The Princess Margaret Hospital suffers from a lack of doctors. The doctors who are presently staffed there are constantly being overworked and doing more shifts than expected. Errors are expected and become commonplace when you have overworked physicians and a notable lack of resources.
Why not invest in the individuals who are already on their way to becoming doctors?