Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
A new clinic has been opened to serve the town of Black River and its environs. The clinic, which was opened by the All-American Institute of Medical Science (AAIMS) on Monday, will serve the two-fold purpose of offering a service to the community as well as aiding with the instruction of the medical students enrolled at the school.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, in his keynote address, delivered on his behalf by Regional Technical Director of the Southern Regional Health Authority Dr Beverly Wright, said that Jamaica can boast some of the best health indicators anywhere in the world. He went on to state that on its own, the Government would not be able to meet all the health needs of the population, but through partnerships with private sector organisations, a high standard of health services could be maintained.
"It is the partnership that the government health service enjoys with the private sector, non-governmental organisations along with medical missions and our donor or funding partners."
That is where organisations such as AAIMS come in.
"It is through these partnerships that we are able to continue to deliver quality health care where there is a shortfall in resources or where the Government cannot immediately respond to [urgent] needs through budgetary allocation. That is why I am pleased that AAIMS is opening this medical centre today. This is a signal of your partnership with us.
"I am extending to you the encouragement that will say to you that you are doing a good thing as are all the other partners whose innovation and generosity allow us to deliver health care in Jamaica the way we do," the minister added.
Ferguson said that it was his hope that the AAIMS Medical Centre would become an example. He went on to indicate the Government's desire to cultivate genuine partnerships as these are one of the legs of the tripod that balanced the Jamaican health sector.
Medical Director of the AAIMS Medical Centre, Dr Stanhope Maxwell, said that with the opening of the clinic, students would be exposed to real medical cases in addition to the theory.
"From day one, our medical students will facilitate their learning by engaging in cognitive activities based on real cases seen in our medical centre," Maxwell said.
Previously, students would have to wait until they went on a clerkship or a clinical rotation before they would have been exposed to real medical cases.
In medical education, a clerkship, or rotation, refers to the practice of medicine by medical students during their third and fourth years of study typically after having completed the first part of medical school training in a classroom setting.
Although students will not be diagnosing and treating patients, where patient consent is given, they will be allowed to observe the practice of medicine in the clinic.
Maxwell said that medical students often had difficulty applying the theory they had been taught to the actual practice of medicine. He said that early clinical exposure in the pre-clinical phase had been recommended to reduce such issues with transitioning.
early clinical exposure
He said that research had shown that clerkship students who had early clinical exposure in primary health-care centres were better able to perform when they began their clerkships than those who were only exposed to the theory of medicine.
"In the developing country context, primary health-care centres seem more appropriate for clinical skills training of pre-clinical students than secondary health-care centres and tertiary health-care centres. The AAIMS Medical Centre will provide a high-quality comprehensive range of general and specialist medical and surgical services to the AAIMS Medical School and St Elizabeth communities.
"The AAIMS Medical Centre has already started to offer medical services [and] consultations in general practice, general dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, sexual dysfunctions, general surgery, occupational medicine, and physical therapy (including hydrotherapy because we have a swimming pool). Within the next one to two months, the medical centre will also provide ear, nose, and throat and obstetrics or gynecology specialist consultations. We are actively seeking out orthopaedic and paediatric specialists," Maxwell told Rural Express.
AAIMS, which is a little over two years old, started in January 2011 as an offshore medical school where foreign students would train before returning overseas. The school, which started with about six students, has since seen growth and changes to the nature of its programmes. Now, the majority of the students hail from Jamaica and the Caribbean.