ETHIOPIA: First National Residency Matching Program for Medical Doctors

August Ethiopianherald; Ethiopia, successfully executed National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) with a view to stepping up the health service accessibility, affordability and availability throughout the country. The program which is unprecedented in the medical history of the country conducted its first NRMP exam in selected exam hubs: Addis Ababa, Jimma, Mekelle, Bahirdar, Hawassa, and Haromaya.

According to Dr. Wondowossen Eshetu, program advisor for medical education in Ministry of Health (MOH) previously general practitioners never had a chance to choose three areas of specialization in one shoot. But now they can go for such a chance taking three types of examinations. In the past, there were only 5 higher learning institutions which used to give residency programs across the country. Happily, now, the number has shot up to 12. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the physician to inhabitants ratio for sub-Saharan country has to be one to ten thousand. Despite this standard Ethiopia’s physician to inhabitants ratio is one physician to eighteen thousand inhabitants. But within three years time we will have a good number of specialists thanks to the National Residency Matching Program. In few years to come, NRMP will be similar to USMLE.

“One thing one really has to understand is the more specialized professionals we have, the more refined the service is going to be. The education quality as well will be good. Therefore, Ethiopia should strive to ensure it has got a good number of specialists to teach and at the same time upgrade the medical service across the country. Unless we churn out,as many qualified health professionals through NRMP set in motion, we cannot achieve the desired goals easily. As this is a good beginning, we should be able to maintain the momentum. ” he added.

The focus area of NRMP runs the gamut from medical education to practitioners up to specialty residency program. There are 27 public and six private medical schools (Graduating Doctors) throughout the country which are labeled as first, second and third generations of medical schools. In the past, once the medical doctors graduated, as part of the medical follow-up ,they might stay for few years and join the residency program.

As the moment, MoH is trying to exercise a digitally and centrally managed National Residency Matching Program. In this approach all applicants are expected go to apply to MoH and take exams electronically. Then after they join the 12 universities they better fit in or according to their merit. That is why the program acquired the qualifier Match. The new approach is believed to come up with more specialists in a few years time and take the country to a new level of success of the 1753 doctors registered, 1490 were eligible but only ten missed the exam in the last minute.

Currently, there are 5000 general practitioners for one hundred million Ethiopians. Among the practitioners, Ethiopia posses only 1500 specialists in all fields, among others, Internists, obstetricians, Ortohpeidsts, Surgeons & cardiologists . The number of specialists in each field will multiply over after some years when the medical doctors finish their specialty based on their merit.

As per Dr. Biruk Lambisso, one of the examiners and a senior consultant orthopedic surgeon, at Addis Ababa University-Black Lion Hospital, after the medical doctors have chosen their fields of interest, they will be assigned according to their merits. They sit for a written examination, which has a 70 percent weight. (40 general & 80 specialty questions) The 30 percent goes for interview which shall be conducted next week. Our Hospital is the largest to run specialty programs in all 22 departments and takes in almost half of the trainees (500/1050).

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