Faculty members of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine of the University of Liberia (UL) have held an acquaintance meeting with United States Ambassador Christine Elder and USAID (United States Aid for International Development) Mission Director Anthony Chan, disclosing a number of strategies they have formulated to improve the college.
Bernice Dahn, former Health Minister and now vice president of the College of Health Sciences, on May 22 informed the two senior US officials who visited the campus that the faculty has drafted a new curriculum to include sciences, to help students graduating from high school to become acquainted with what they will learn when they shall have enrolled at the college. The guests also toured the eLearning facility.
Dr. Dahn said the intent is to increase students enrollment in the college and also to prepare those wishing to specialize, so that they can begin planning their career before they are enrolled.
According to Dahn, it takes 16 years to specialize at the college in Liberia, and in order to reduce such number of years, the new curriculum will help students to learn the basics of their area of specialty.
She attributed shortage of doctors in the country to the long years a student spend to specialize in a particular area.
She said recruitment is as low as 40 in a year’s time, and when graduation is held, the level of enrollment drastically drops until the UL administers a placement examination to prospective students.
The college, according to Dr. Dahn, is also contemplating pushing for financial autonomy, which will allow it to operate its own budget outside of UL’s account.
Assistant Dean Lawrence Sherman said in most instances, the college does not receive the financial support it must have when the UL is overly burdened by problems that require money.
Students of the college were also able to interact with the US visiting delegation.
The visit of Amb. Elder and delegation were also to ascertain the effectiveness of the eLearning platform implemented by the US Health Resources and Services Administration through support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The eLearning platform seeks to improve teaching and learning at the college, boost the number of qualified doctors and reduce the workload on lecturers.
The students in their interaction with Amb. Elder and her delegation, praised them for the program that has improved their learning process.
They said in separate interviews that the eLearning program, though challenging in terms of having access to the software, is more helpful, because it reduces the stress of going to the library late hours to make research at times when there is no electricity.
eLearning platform is a part of HRSA’s Resilient and Responsive Health Systems (RRHS) Initiative, a five-year $9.5 million grant.
In a statement, Amb. Elder said “a key priority of the US Government’s work in Liberia is to improve the general health status of Liberians, and to strengthen its healthcare delivery system.”
The eLearning platform used at the college represents an important contribution to achieve that goal by improving the world-class preparation of medical students and faculty, to attract more Liberians to the profession.