Rising to the challenge: Training the next generation of clinician scientists for South Africa
Background. A shortage of clinician scientists globally, particularly in the developing world, including Africa and South Africa (SA), is well known and was recently highlighted in a consensus report by the Academy of Science of South Africa. There is a need to find innovative ways to develop and advance clinician scientists in SA.
Objective. To provide opportunities for young clinicians to develop research skills through enrolling for a PhD.
Method. To address this need in SA, we developed an innovative programme over 2 years in collaboration with the Carnegie Corporation of New York to support and train young specialist clinicians in research as the next generation of clinician scientists, through a full-time PhD programme.
Results. Since initiation of the programme in March 2011, 16 such specialists have been enrolled at intervals in the Fellowship programme, 5 have qualified with PhDs, while a further 3 are expected to qualify shortly. Publications and presentations at congresses have been recorded as well as grant applications.
Discussion. Although the programme is seen as an important initial step in addressing the shortage of clinician scientists, its dependence on donor funding and the lack of a secure career path for clinicians wishing to spend more of their career in research pose problems for the programme’s sustainability. It is hoped that the positive outcomes of this experience will initiate further programmes of this kind at academic institutions and attract the attention of funders and universities in order to sustain and enlarge this initiative.
B Kramer, Health Sciences Research Office, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Y Veriava, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
J M Pettifor, Health Sciences Research Office, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Date published: 2015-11-21
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