MoH adopts strategies to encourage applications for PG residency program

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo addressed the issue concerning shortage of applicants for Bhutan’s Postgraduate (PG) Residency Program under the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences. With only six candidates applying for 40 available slots, Lyonpo shed light on the primary reasons behind this scarcity, and the proactive measures being taken to rectify the situation.

One of the most significant restraints to prospective applicants has been the bonds. In response to these concerns, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo stated, “The PG residency program under the KGUMS, the intake this year has been comparatively low compared to the past years. But even in the past years, we never had a full intake. So this time, it’s relatively low.”

Lyonpo underscored the high quality of Bhutan’s PG Residency Program. This prompted the government to take a series of policy interventions to address the low number of applicants. She noted that, while the government cannot control the individual decisions of doctors, they can create an enabling environment to encourage more applications.

According to Lyonpo, two key strategies have been implemented to address the shortage of applicants. First, discussions were held at a personal level, with the Prime Minister engaging with doctors to motivate them to apply for the program. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Health has been working on expanding healthcare services and creating more opportunities for doctors to practice, thus generating greater demand for the program.

Secondly, the issue of mandatory bonds associated with the PG Residency Program was tackled head-on. The ministry reached out to the Royal Civil Service Commission to explore the possibility of waiving these bonds, making the program more attractive to potential applicants.

Additionally, Lyonpo highlighted another concern faced by some doctors who were interested in applying for the program. Some had prior commitments, including a provision period they needed to complete before becoming eligible to apply. Lyonpo said, “There were doctors who were interested to apply, but then they had certain commitments and they had to complete the provision period.” The ministry engaged in discussions with the RCSC to make exceptions in these cases, allowing such doctors to apply without being bound by prior commitments.

As a result of these policy interventions, Lyonpo shared that eight more applicants have applied for the PG Residency Program, bringing the total number of applicants to 14. In the effort to cast a wider net for potential applicants, the program was also advertised twice.

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