oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - Shortage of faculty in medical schools in Tanzania : a case study at the Catholic University of Health and Allied Health Sciences : research
Background. The number of medical schools in Tanzania, and their respective student enrolments, has tripled in the last decade in response to the growing population and healthcare needs. There has, however, not been a corresponding increase in the number of faculty, resulting in a critical shortage of teachers.
Objective. To determine the extent of the faculty shortage at the School of Medicine, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS), Bugando, Tanzania.
Methods. A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted of all heads of departments and their staff to determine the number of available and required faculty. Postgraduate trainees were also interviewed about their role in undergraduate teaching activities.
Results. At the time of the study, the School of Medicine had a total of 83 faculty and about 700 undergraduate students and residents. Of the entire faculty, 32 (38.6%) worked as full-time employees and 51 (61.4%) as part-time employees. The Department of Surgery had the greatest number of faculty while Psychiatry and Ophthalmology had the smallest staff complement. Over 50% of departments reported faculty shortages of 30% or more. Postgraduate trainees confirmed that they were regularly called upon to teach medical students.
Conclusion. The critical shortage of faculty at CUHAS is likely to compromise the quality of education offered and, as a consequence, the competence of healthcare professionals being trained in Tanzania. Interventions that may improve the situation include the establishment of a residents-as-teachers training programme, and a faculty development programme to groom junior faculty to take on leadership roles and develop strategies to improve the quality of health professions education in Tanzania.
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