Evaluation of the parallel rural community curriculum at Flinders University of South Australia: Lessons learnt for Africa

Ian Douglas Couper, Paul S Worley


Background: The Flinders University Parallel Rural Community Curriculum (PRCC) offers a community-based longitudinal curriculum as an alternative for students in their pre-final year of medical training. The PRCC has been duplicated in many settings around the world. The question is whether it is relevant to Africa.

Objectives: To review data collected during an evaluation of the PRCC in the light of critical issues for medical education in Africa.

Design: Individual and focus group interviews were conducted with students, staff, health service managers, preceptors and community members to evaluate experiences of the PRCC, as part of a broader evaluation of the year 3 curriculum.

Results: Students are exposed to and learn comprehensive, holistic, relationship-based care of patients with a wide range of problems. Students have varying experience in different sites yet achieve the same outcomes. Students learn through an apprenticeship model and a graded increase in responsibility for patient care. There is a strong partnership with the health service, and the university involvement has an important impact on the health service. The programme is viewed very positively by all levels of government and is seen as an important contributor to addressing workforce needs.

Conclusions: The PRCC offers useful principles which deserve consideration by medical educators in Africa. The balance between sound education along with exposure to a variety of contexts is important. These principles have not only educational implications but also implications for recruitment and retention of staff in underserved areas.

Authors' affiliations

Ian Douglas Couper, Wits University

Paul S Worley, Flinders University

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community based; curriculum reform; holistic; continuity; workforce; training

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2010;2(2):14.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-03-16
Date published: 2010-12-13

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