The health minister’s proposal to initiate an internship program in Bhutan for the medical students was rejected by some of the Bhutanese MBBS students in Sri Lanka in 2009.
The Health Minister mentioned this during the launch of internship guideline and Bhutan Medical & Health Council website.
In February 2009 the health minister was attending a health ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of which he visited Bhutanese MBBS students.
Lyonpo Zanglay Dukpa said during that time, “Some of the MBBS students objected to my initiative, and even accused me of initiating such programs for non-educational reasons”.
He said he is happy because those very students who objected to his initiative and proposal way back in February 2009 have now realized the importance and significance of internship in Bhutan.
“Internship programs are absolutely necessary and mandatory for all medical students,” said the Health Minister.
Unlike previous years, now medical and health professionals can do their internships within Bhutan. For the first batch of the internship course, seven MBBS students from Sri Lanka have joined as interns from 3 October.
This was possible only with the launch of ‘Internship Guidelines’ by Bhutan Medical & Health Council (BMHC).
The Registrar of BMHC, Dr. Pandup Tshering, said the need of internship program in JDWNRH was felt after Bhutanese medical students studying outside Bhutan approached Ministry of Health. Later BMHC started to work upon guidelines of the training program.
The guideline was developed by reviewing the internship guideline in other countries and adapting local needs. It also incorporated the technical feedbacks received from specialist of JDWNRH and Council members.
The BMHC Act 2002 states, one mandate of the BMHC is to regulate quality of Medical and Health education and training programs in Bhutan while BMHC Regulation 2005 states that it is mandatory for all medical undergraduates to complete one year of internship training to be eligible for registration with the Council and practice their profession in Bhutan.
Officiating Medical Director of JDWNRH Dr. Pakila Drukpa said this initiative will be a stepping stone for the future generations who will graduate from University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan or medical institutions abroad.
An intern can practice independently without a license. They can at the same time undergo practical trainings for the professional development.
Benefits of internship program were viewed as an exposure to epidemiological pattern, prescription pattern, working in our own cultural settings and all these will make for good Doctor’s practice in Bhutan.
One of the interns in JDWNRH in Medical Department, Wangdi Norbu from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, said he was also present when Lyonpo visited students in Sri Lanka. “But I was in third year and I didn’t have any clues then,” he said.
He said he never thought that he would do an internship in Bhutan.
Wangdi Norbu said when he interned in Sri Lanka for three months there were only two specialties.
The internship course in Bhutan has all the specialties such as Pediatrician, medicines, surgery and so on along with other small specialties.
“They will benefit us even if we are posted in remotes areas like BHUs and also District hospital,” he said.
The program is launched by BMHC.