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Becoming a doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo / The socioprofessional career path of medical graduates from Lubumbashi University

Benjamin RUBBERS student laureate

°1977 Belgium
Licence in sociology, Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2000

Devenir médecin en république démocratique du Congo / La trajectoire socioprofessionnelle des diplômés en médecine de l'Université de Lubumbashi

Benjamin Rubbers’s work deals with the professional career of medical graduates from Lubumbashi University (Democratic Republic of Congo). Rubbers analyses the diversity of reasons that lead young Congolese to begin a medical training, how they pay for their training, what their professional chances are in the job market and how the graduates explore that market, and finally, how the ‘generalists’ among them (as opposed to the ‘specialists’) perceive their work situation.
This work is of a very high quality. In the first instance because it deals with an extremely relevant topic: it explores in a very thorough way the underlying motivations and expectations of an important professional group in health care systems – doctors. In an international context of widespread brain drain and the great tendency of health care workers to move around, it is indeed extremely important to acquire a greater understanding of the whole complex of factors that determine the professional (de)motivation of health care workers. This study also touches on the fact (an old sore) that the training of Congolese doctors – and this applies to other developing countries as well – is not always adapted to the more difficult reality they encounter in the field. This discrepancy is one of the sources of frustration and demotivation for those Congolese doctors who have chosen – freely or otherwise – to work in the public health care sector in rural areas.
A second reason for the excellence of this work is the rigorous methodology Benjamin Rubbers has employed and the precision with which he substantiates his conclusions. A third reason, finally, is the tone of the whole work, namely the absence throughout Rubbers’s work of the least complacency and/or voyeurism, and the respectful attitude with which the author approaches the people in his study, their customs and their language.

report by Prof. Dr B. Criel, Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium