March 17, 2021
Previously known as SIGISSP (Solomon Islands Graduate Intern Supervision and Support Project), Solomon Islands’ national medical education program has changed its name to SIMPLER (Solomon Islands Medical Partnerships for Learning, Education and Research), reflecting an expansion of its educational scope and capacity development goals.
Through SIMPLER, Australian volunteers are sent to Solomon Islands to work side by side with local colleagues, helping supervise and train large numbers of foreign-trained medical graduates returning to Solomon Islands.
In recent years, it became clear the program needed to include post-registration medical education, increasing career pathways for junior doctors. The National Referral Hospital in Honiara now offers a Graduate Diploma of Emergency Medicine for doctors either through the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) or Fiji National University. A program is currently being developed for a Graduate Diploma in Rural Medicine through the Solomon Islands National University, with further training and research programs to be developed for this partnership.
The Solomon Islands medical education program was started in 2015 in response to a request from the National Referral Hospital. The limited number of qualified doctors was overwhelmed by a cohort of foreign-trained medical graduates returning to Solomon Islands, who needed undertake a hospital-based internship to meet the requirements of the medical registration board and learn to work effectively and independently in both urban and rural health facilities.
As of mid 2021, 27 Australian volunteers have been involved in the program, as clinicians, medical educators and administrators. The Intern Training Program, including a 10-month bridging course and a two-year intern training course, is now well-established and will continue until there is no further need.
Since 2015, more than 67 foreign-trained medical graduates have completed the training program and are now fully qualified medical practitioners. A further 61 are currently enrolled in the program.
SIMPLER is a collaboration between AVI, the Australian Volunteers Program, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Ministry of Health & Medical Services – Solomon Islands, and the National Referral Hospital, Honiara.
All available positions for SIMPLER are advertised on the Australian Volunteers Program website.