A faculty-led solution to transport-related stress among South African medical students
African Journal of Health Professions Education
The 110-year-old UFS is 1 of 24 public universities in SA, of which 8 (including the UFS) have medical schools. With its 8 faculties (including Health Sciences, comprising schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions), 3 campuses, and >31 000 students, including >720 medical students, UFS is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in SA. The School of Medicine (SoM) is situated on the main UFS campus in Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Free State Province. The SoM
... as a 5-year Background. In many parts of the developing world the lack of consistent and affordable transport may be a serious obstacle to education and a unique sociocultural cause of stress among undergraduate students. Objective. To determine the student-perceived benefits of a faculty-led, grassroots student transport service for economically disadvantaged medical students. The service has been newly developed and implemented at the School of Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. Methods. A brief qualitative questionnaire survey, with Likert scales and free text, was administered to participants in the Student Transport Project after its first 21 months of operation. Students' views of the impact and effect of the project on their circumstances were surveyed. Results. During its first 2 years of operation, the Student Transport Project was used by 116 students in their clinical third -fifth years, representing 16.6% of students in these years of training. All the participating students using the shuttle service were from previously disadvantaged communities and were economically disadvantaged. A survey among the participating students yielded an 84% response rate; they all felt that the service significantly reduced their levels of financial and emotional stress, and many believed that the project positively impacted on their academic performance and assisted them in remaining in medical school. Conclusion. The basic, but novel, student transport service described in this article can have a dramatic effect in reducing medical student stress and, potentially, improving academic performance and success. It is hoped that others in lesser-developed countries in Africa and beyond may replicate such a student-centred transport initiative at their schools.