Home is where the training is for isolated would-be medics

January 18, 2002

A distance-learning link is being set up by the University of Paris-6, Pierre et Marie Curie, so that medical students in New Caledonia can follow first-year studies without having to leave France's most far-flung overseas territory.

Less than 10 per cent of doctors working in New Caledonia - a scattering of islands in the Pacific, east of Australia - are locals.

Until now, first-year medical students have had to travel nearly 17,000km to metropolitan France to pursue their studies. The students faced problems of isolation and disorientation as well as the challenges of a discipline with a national failure rate of 70 per cent after the first year.

The partnership between the teaching hospital Pitie-Salpetri re, which is the faculty of medicine of Paris-6, and the University of New Caledonia in Noumea is an attempt to increase the number of local doctors by guaranteeing medical students an equal footing to those on the mainland during their first year.

Pierre et Marie Curie University said that those who passed the exam at the end of the year would have benefited from an initial period of adaptation and overcome preliminary difficulties, and could then continue their studies in metropolitan France.

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