In the period before 2003, Ghanaian doctors who desired to pursue postgraduate medical training had to do so outside Ghana.
The country did not have a local training programme for specialist doctors.
Doctors therefore had to undertake their specialist training through the West Africa College of Physicians and the West Africa College of Surgeons which are based in Nigeria, while others went to the United Kingdom, the United States or to South Africa.
There was a high attrition rate of medical practitioners given sponsorship for postgraduate professional training abroad as many did not return.
The strong desire to stem the brain-drain resulted in the push by the Ghana Medical Association, health professionals and ministers for health for a post graduate medical college in Ghana in 2000.
The effort led to the establishment of a National Postgraduate Medical College for training specialist doctors in medicine, surgery and related disciplines by an Act of Parliament in 2003.
The College was inaugurated on December 9, 2003. The first group of Residents was enrolled into the College in September 2004 and graduated in September 2007.
On December, 9, 2018, the GCPS was 15 years old. The College is celebrating this milestone with a series of activities.
The Rector of the College, Prof Jacob Plange-Rhule, said activities for the celebration included a public lecture on the theme for the College’s 2018 Annual General meeting, which is “Putting the ‘heart’ back into medical practice: Quality management and ethical practice.
Other activities are a scientific session, induction ceremony for new Members and Fellows, a medical screening at Teshie, opening up of the Museum of Medicine at the College to senior high school students, a College dinner and a press soiree.
With the mandate to organise training programmes, conduct exams, award certificates, influence health policy and undertake Continuous Professional Development (CPD), the College has 15 Faculties.
Prof Plange-Rhule said the College runs a three(3) year Membership Programme the qualifies a doctor as a Specialist and a further two (2) to three (3) year programme depending on the specialty area.
Membership and Fellowship programmes for physicians are in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Paediatrics and Child Health, Psychiatry, Public Health, Radiology, Oncology Radiation.
“For the surgeons, the GCPS offers programmes in Anaesthesia, Paediatrics/Child Health, Dental Surgery and Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Otorhinolaryngology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Surgery and Subspecialties.” he added.
In addition, the GCPS organises a “Modular” Membership Programme in Family Medicine.
This involves taking specialist training in Family Medicine to the doorsteps of District Doctors.
This is done using clusters of accredited District hospitals as Training Centres.
New Training Programmes approved by Academic Board during the last year include Fellowship programmes in Geriatrics and Rheumatology, Paediatric Oncology and Intensive Care (Anaesthesia).
Others under consideration are, Fellowship in Maternal Foetal Medicine and Female Pelvic Medicine,
Training Centres and Sites
Training Centres used by the College include the Korle Bu, Komfo Anokye, Tamale and Cape Coast Teaching Hospitals, 37 Military Hospital, Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital, Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Brong Ahafo Regional Hospital and Nyaho Medical Centre.
It also has Training Sites at the Princess Marie Louis Children’s Hospital, Koforidua Regional Hospital, La General Hospital and the Volta River Authority (VRA) Hospital.
Prof. Plange-Rhule said as part of its programme of expansion, the College had accredited private specialist facilities for training.
These include FOCUS Hospital, Nyaho Medical Centre, Lister Hospital and Tema Women’s Hospital all in Accra, using the accreditation norms agreed amongst specialist medical training institutions within the West Africa region.
Presently the College has turned out a cumulative total of 1,046 at Membership level (Specialists) and 93 at the Fellowship level (Senior Specialists and Consultant-eligible).
According to the Rector, this year, 144 Members and 29 Fellows will be inducted into the College.
The Members to be inducted is made up of 83 from the Division of Physicians and the remaining sixty one 61 are from the Division of Surgeons.
The College continues to forge external linkages with like institutions.
One of these institutions is the University of Michigan in the United States, which provides the GCPS assistance with the development of new programmes to meet national needs.
It also has linkages with the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation in North America, comprising of Ghanaian doctors in the North American diaspora, who support the College with expertise and funding for external rotation of Residents of the College.
Prof Plange-Rhule said “recently, the College initiated linkages with the Ghana Doctors and Dentists Association in the UK.
The Idea is to tap into their knowledge to enrich our programmes and to use them as resource persons and trainers at the College.”
Since the inception of the College, the concentration has been on the promotion of specialist education and continuous professional development so in January, 2017 the College formed a Health Policy Advocacy Group to help influence health policy in Ghana through advocacy.
Medical Knowledge Fiesta
In 2011, the first Medical Knowledge Fiesta was organised in Accra, as a collaboration between the College, the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation (GPSF)of North America and the Africa Medical Partners (APM).
Since then the Medical Knowledge Fiesta has become an annual conference which brings together renowned experts in various disciplines of medicine from Ghana and Ghanaian trained specialists based in the United States of America (USA) and Canada.
The conference is targeted mainly at medical practitioners who practice in Ghana.
The College’s Residents in Training Educational Stipend (RITES) Programme is a flagship project set up by the GPSF to support Fellowships for Resident from Ghana.
The goal of the RITES programme is for Residents to experience and learn from the healthcare system in the United States, including approach to care, best practices and also build collaborations and relationships as they move forward in their medical career.
Training is in conjunction with the Yale University School of Medicine.
Medical healthcare education is one of the missions of GPSF and the RITES programme which is solely funded by its members helps it accomplish that mission.
The GCPS also has a Resident e-Portfolio Mobile App (GCPS ePort), which is an electronic training portfolio to monitor and evaluate Residents’ training progress in real time.
The App is an Electronic Logbook which in addition help Residents plan their rotations, track CPDs activities and update courses they attend and provides for Trainers’ evaluation of Residents after each rotation.
According to Prof Plange-Rhule, the College plans to improve its e-learning capability, including tele-medicine to reach doctors wherever they are in Ghana.