James Cook University ISSN 1445-6354
Introduction: Thailand has recognised and sought to remedy rural medical workforce shortages. The Collaborative Project to Increase production of Rural Doctors (CPIRD) has improved rural workforce recruitment through publicly funding medical school places for students with rural background. However challenges in rural retention continue. CPIRD is seeking to develop a Thai Rural Community-Based Medical Education (RCBME) program in the Southern region of Thailand to improve preparation for rural practice and rural medical retention rates. Prospective stakeholder consultations will allow the understanding of expectations and concerns of stakeholders, required for successful RCBME implementation. This study aims to explore stakeholders’ expectations of the Southern Thai RCBME initiative.
Methods: A qualitative case study comprised a purposive sample of students, clinical educators, policy makers, rural health professionals and local community stakeholders, all likely to be involved in a new RCBME program in Songkhla Province. Individual semi-structured interviews were audiotaped, transcribed in Thai and coded using Worley’s Symbiosis framework. Following this, text and quotes used in the initial analysis were translated into English, discussed and reanalysed for emergent themes across the framework.
Results: 21 participants contributed RCBME stakeholder perspectives. They demonstrated expectations and concerns in each of the relationship axes of the Symbiosis Model including the clinical, institutional, social, and personal axes. Three major themes emerged from the data that integrated stakeholder perspectives on the implication of RCBME in Thailand. These themes included: a dramatic shift in Thai medical education paradigm; seeing rural practice as a future career; and collaboration to improve education and health in rural services.
Conclusion: This study comprehensively describes Thai stakeholder expectations of RCBME and demonstrates that although some principles of RCBME are universal, context does influence the expectations and capacity of stakeholders to contribute to RCBME. Prospective formal stakeholder engagement is recommended to ensure successful implementation of new educational innovations.