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D. Saleh, M. Abdelrazik, R. Ahmed

Cairo University, Faculty of Medicine (EGYPT)
The Public Health Department (PHD) took great steps towards the reform of the Community Medicine Training Program (CMTP) for the undergraduate medical students at Cairo University. The CMTP has three objectives: improve management of CMTP, upgrade the technical/professional skills, and vitalize service learning and creativeness.

Aim of the study:
To explore the views of medical students who attended the reformed CMTP towards the program.

The study was conducted after the implementation of the reformed CMTP at the end of the academic year. Five focus group discussions were conducted with a subset of students. The data was analyzed to identify strengths, weakness, opportunities and challenges of the CMTP. A self-administered structured questionnaire was created and administered systematic random sample of another subset of 500 students (100/round). The Institutional Review Board of the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University approved the study.

Analysis of the FG discussions revealed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of the reformed CMTP. The students thought that the main strength of the CMTP was that the PHD had made outstanding achievements in having small teams of students attached to faculty members. The main weakness was the lack of enough resources at the PHD such as computers and internet access. The main opportunities was that the strong bond between the student and the faculty would allow for future cooperation and communication between the graduated physicians and PHD faculty members. The main challenge was that the exposure of the students to the rural population problems related to water supply and environmental sanitation were beyond the students' capacity to be solved thus were very frustrating.
Analysis of the self-administered questionnaire data showed students' views towards major aspects of CMTP. The majority of students (83%) judged that the PHD succeeded in the management component of the program and this success was due to the introduction of generic skills (leadership, teambuilding and communication), organizing students and staff members into small teams, and establishing strong student-staff interaction through different well-planned training activities. Professional / technical training in community medicine, which included field visits (e.g. visits to rural area and primary health care centers), and workshops was rated as successful by 64% of the students. Services learning / creativeness was scored as successful by 59% of the students due to involvement of students in hands-on training, community mobilization and participation activities (e.g. medical conveys, working with the faculty clinical departments' staff, Ministry of Health, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations).

Students who received the CMTP perceived it as a generally successful training.