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BMC Medical Education





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Background Quality of health care needs to be improved in rural China. The Chinese government, based on the 1999 Law on Physicians, started implementing the Rural Doctor Practice Regulation in 2004 to increase the percentage of certified physicians among village doctors. Special exam-targeted training for rural doctors therefore was launched as a national initiative. This study examined these rural doctors’ perceptions of whether that training helps them pass the exam and whether it improves their skills. Methods Three counties were selected from the 4 counties in Changzhou City in eastern China, and 844 village doctors were surveyed by a questionnaire in July 2012. Chi-square test and Fisher exact test were used to identify differences of attitudes about the exam and training between the rural doctors and certified (assistant) doctors. Longitudinal annual statistics (1980–2014) of village doctors were further analyzed. Results Eight hundred and forty-four village doctors were asked to participate, and 837 (99.17%) responded. Only 14.93% of the respondents had received physician (assistant) certification. Only 49.45% of the village doctors thought that the areas tested by the certification exam were closely related to the healthcare needs of rural populations. The majority (86.19%) felt that the training program was “very helpful” or “helpful” for preparing for the exam. More than half the village doctors (61.46%) attended the “weekly school”. The village doctors considered the most effective method of learning was “continuous training (40.36%)” . The majority of the rural doctors (89.91%) said they would be willing to participate in the training and 96.87% stated that they could afford to pay up to 2000 yuan for it. Conclusions The majority of village doctors in Changzhou City perceived that neither the certification exam nor the training for it are closely related to the actual healthcare needs of rural residents. Policies and programs should focus on providing exam-preparation training for selected rural doctors, reducing training expenditures, and utilizing web-based methods. The training focused on rural practice should be provided to all village doctors, even certified physicians. The government should also adjust the local licensing requirements to attract and recruit new village doctors.


China; Village doctors; Rural health; Training; Certified physician; Certified assistant physician; Healthcare workforce


Community Health

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