This year’s top medical students in Rwanda all recently chose to train at hospitals supported by PIH’s Rwandan sister organization, Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB).
The Medical School of the National University of Rwanda will soon graduate 90 new doctors. Each has committed to working two years in a rural district hospital to repay their education. The students get to choose the hospitals where they will work as interns by class rank, with the first choice going to the top ranked student, and down the line. Each of the country’s hospitals has slots for three interns.
“Where did the country's best young physicians choose to work? The first, second and third-ranked students chose Rwinkwavu Hospital,” reported PIH Rwanda Country Director Peter Drobac. “The fourth, fifth and sixth selected Kirehe. And students 7 through 9 chose Butaro Hospital.” All three of these hospitals are supported by IMB, in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health. “In other words, Rwanda's top medical graduates all chose to work at PIH-supported hospitals. Nine-for-nine,” concluded Peter.
Why are young doctors so eager to work with PIH/IMB? "First of all, it's not the money," said Peter. Indeed, higher salaries are available at other hospitals.
“Interns chose IMB partly because of its reputation,” said IMB physician Gilbert Biraro, who was himself an intern at Rwinkwavu Hospital. “IMB’s hospitals and clinics are places where young doctors flourish because of the robust working environment that allows them to round with both local and foreign specialists, from whom they acquire expert knowledge and skills.”
The rich learning environment is largely thanks to strong ties with Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, which provide stellar clinical faculty, research opportunities and transnational educational exchanges.
Gilbert also noted that many young Rwandan doctors pursue a career in medicine because they want to serve the poor and the sick—a mission that mirrors IMB/PIH’s. “Patients are treated holistically and comprehensively [at IMB/PIH supported facilities] including the most poorest and vulnerable who would have otherwise not have accessed health care due to lack of treatment fees,” said Gilbert. IMB/PIH ensures that even the poorest patients have access to high-quality care, including ultrasound machines, operating facilities, and a well stocked pharmacy offering treatments from HIV to cancer chemotherapy, regardless, of their ability to pay.
“On top of all of this, [and despite living in a rural area] IMB staff has access to housing, transport, and food,” added Gilbert. “I believe all [of these factors] motivate young professionals want work here.”
IMB’s newest interns will begin their two-year terms at the end of the current academic school year.