Increasing interest in local medical school offers solution to shortage of doctors

The increasing number of local students enrolled at the National University of Samoa's School of Medicine is the solution to the chronic shortage of doctors in Samoa.

So says the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, Professor Fui Asofou So'o, during a press conference on Friday, where he confirmed the record number of local students who have registered this year.

“This is the first time since the establishment of the programme that eleven local students are enrolled in their first year of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme,” he said.

“Altogether there are 14 students comprised of three international students, two are from Solomon Islands and one from Australia."

The interest from local students is great sign, the Vice Chancellor added.

“There are ten scholarships offered by the Samoan Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Scholarship office but we also have one local student who is self-funded in terms of studies,” said Prof. Fui.

Prof. Fui said the new number of students is an increase of 60 percent, compared to nine in 2018 and eight in 2017.

“Every year, close to 20 students apply for placements in the programme but only 50-60 per cent of applicants meet the essential requirements to enter the programme.

“For the undergraduate level, the entry requirements to enter the programme are an average of 80 per cent plus the best three in Science subjects of human biology, general biology and chemistry or mathematics from a science foundation programme.

“For the graduate level, the entry requirement is a minimum average of 65 per cent from a Bachelor of Science or Health Science and the requirements for entry are set at the levels to ensure the caliber of students can cope with the demands and the challenges of the programme throughout the six-year period."

He explained that the first three years is theoretically based teaching (pre-clinical) with limited exposure to clinical knowledge.

“The last three years are hospital-based teaching where students are exposed tor real life situations under close supervision by clinical lecturers and honorary clinical lecturers.”

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