‘Reserve special training places for students on the Caribbean islands’

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More admission opportunities for ‘island children’ when entering medicine and further education would stimulate the medical sector on Curaçao and other Caribbean islands.

Asosiashon Mediko di Antias (AMA), an association of doctors and medical students with roots in the special Dutch municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the islands of Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba, believes that extraordinary measures such as these are needed to enter the labor market. improve care on the islands.

Recently, the largest hospital in Curaçao CMC announced that operations cannot continue due to a staff shortage. Waiting lists have also increased. CMC medical specialists warn that nursing staff and doctors are harder to find. They often leave for the Netherlands, where the care sector welcomes new staff with open arms and offers higher salaries.

Ministerial places

In response to the pressing problem of staff shortages on the islands, especially of medical assistants, trainee general practitioner Abigaël Bouwman, vice-chairman of AMA, argues for the reintroduction of the so-called ‘minister positions’. This regulation, abolished in 2017, made it possible for the Minister of Education to reserve a number of extra places for medical students from the islands. The ultimate aim of this was to maintain the growth of qualified healthcare personnel.

The increasing problems on the labor market have made the plea topical again. Prospective students from the islands used to be admitted to medical programs via the 8+ regulation or via the ‘minister places’: special places reserved for Dutch numerus fixus programs such as medicine – also other programs – for prospective students from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. These were 23 places. In design, this system was similar to the weighted lottery in the Netherlands. The scheme was abolished at the same time as the central lottery. Now that it will return in 2024/2025, the ministerial position could also return, the AMA suggests.

Collaboration Aruba and VUmc

In order to further increase the opportunities for island children, and thereby strengthen healthcare on Curaçao and other islands, the AMA advocates courses on the islands in preparation for decentralized selection. In addition, ‘superformal’ specialist training places would be introduced for the basic doctors of the ABC-SSS islands, ‘with criteria that they must emigrate after the training’, Bouwman adds.

The AMA also calls for financial support from the Dutch government: ‘The islands cannot afford the specialist training alone’. Bouwman: ‘We are not looking to the Netherlands to solve this completely, but we are looking for cooperation for a sustainable solution.’ She points out that ‘the islands’ are also taking steps themselves. For example, the general practitioner training in Aruba works together with the general practitioner training of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc.

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