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Acad Med. 2006 Apr;81(4):399-404.

A model for improving physician performance in developing countries: a three-year postgraduate training program in Laos.

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  • 1Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, 133 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


The Faculty of Medical Sciences of the National University of Laos, in partnership with Health Frontiers, an American nonprofit organization, Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland, Ohio, and Khon Kaen University of Khon Kaen, Thailand, administer a postgraduate internal medicine training program for Lao physicians. Begun in 2001, the program admits six participants per year; participants complete clinical rotations in three hospitals in Vientiane, Laos, as well as one other clinical site. The goal of the program is to prepare a core group of local physicians to deliver healthcare, and train others according to an international standard of care. The program has two exceptional features. First, the vast majority of the training takes place in Laos. This avoids the "brain drain" that can occur when nationals of developing countries train abroad. In addition, because the training uses personnel, facilities, and technology available locally, graduates are better prepared to serve the needs of the Lao people. Second, the partnership is an all-volunteer model, committed to a long-term undertaking. American-trained specialists who live in Laos are available to work with the participants on a daily basis. Participants have a long period of time to acquire, reinforce, and be tested in new knowledge and benefit from learning from American colleagues who model an evidence-based approach to medical care, while still working in local conditions. As more Lao physicians receive this level of training, the program will become locally sustainable and help break a cycle of dependency on foreign expertise within the Lao health care sector. Preliminary results suggest that the program is succeeding, and could be replicated elsewhere.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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