Perceptions of the preparedness of medical graduates for internship responsibilities in district hospitals in Kenya: a qualitative study
Background: Aga Khan University is developing its undergraduate medical education curriculum for East Africa. In Kenya, a 1 year internship is mandatory for medical graduates’ registration as practitioners. The majority of approved internship training sites are at district hospitals. The purposes of this study were to determine: (1) whether recent Kenyan medical graduates are prepared for their roles as interns in district hospitals upon graduation from medical school; (2) what working and training conditions and social support interns are likely to face in district hospital; and (3) what aspects of the undergraduate curriculum need to be addressed to overcome perceived deficiencies in interns’ competencies.
Methods: Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews were conducted with current interns and clinical supervisors in seven district hospitals in Kenya. Perceptions of both interns and supervisors regarding interns’ responsibilities and skills, working conditions at district hospitals, and improvements required in medical education were obtained.
Results: Findings included agreement across informants on deficiencies in interns’ practical skills and experience of managing clinical challenges. Supervisors were generally critical regarding interns’ competencies, whereas interns were more specific about their weaknesses. Supervisor expectations were higher in relation to surgical procedures than those of interns. There was agreement on the limited learning, clinical facilities and social support available at district hospitals including, according to interns, inadequate supervision. Supervisors felt they provided adequate supervision and that interns lacked the ability to initiate communication with them. Both groups indicated transition challenges from medical school to medical practice attributable to inadequate practical experience. They indicated the need for more direct patient care responsibilities and clinical experience at a district hospital during undergraduate training.
Conclusion: Perception of medical graduates’ unpreparedness seemed to stem from a failure to implement the apprenticeship model of learning in medical school and lack of prior exposure to district hospitals. These findings will inform curriculum development to meet stakeholder requirements, improve the quality of graduates, and increase satisfaction with transition to practice.