Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On-The-Job MCH Training

For many professions, the most important training one gets is the one-to-one mentoring that happens with older colleagues while you are actually doing the work. They can be formally supervising you or they can just assist you in keeping out of trouble. For years in medicine, such apprenticeship training produced excellent physicians. While it may not be sufficient it is certainly necessary. The one aspect of current medical training that seems less than appropriate, is the demise of such hands on coaching from experienced members in the field.

In rural remote areas with few opportunities for formal education and training, skilled health workers can be trained effectively in a form of on-the-job training that not only incorporates such coaching but also allows and in the case of women, actually encourages them, to undertake training. Reasons for its success include that on-the-job training can take place to the homes of potential recruits, thus allowing them to remain at home while they are trained, reducing the cost and the barriers imposed by leaving the community. Also it prepares health workers for work within that specific environment. While portability of training is overall a good thing, it negatively impinges on rural areas with a net loss of those trained. For people who plan to stay in that region, training in and for that region make perfect sense. Providing training in the home environment helps to increase educational levels in that area. A career ladder that allows the best to move ahead ensures gifted and hardworking health workers are rewarded. But perhaps the best recommendation for on-the-job training occurs when outside organizations recruit your trainees as part of their workforce.

This has happened at FPHC, where several of the recently trained volunteers have been offered jobs within the government health system, including one at the hospital. It is akin to getting a giant feather in your cap, to have someone you have trained to be recognized as useful in a formal role in the health system.

It means you are doing something right and providing opportunities for trainees including volunteers to provide for themselves and their families and to move into the regular job market. It is rewarding to hear that the women volunteers trained by FPHC continue to provide their services free to their own communities. The services they provide will also be augmented by what they learn in their new jobs.

Congratulations to them!

Photo: Sterilizer at EmOC



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