NovaMed offers doctors ‘First Step’ to training, jobs in the US
NovaMed Founder and Managing Partner, Dr David Walcott.
Oxford University-trained doctor and medical entrepreneur, Dr David Walcott is recommending that Jamaican doctors without jobs and medical students looking to secure employment in the future should consider exploring alternative disciplines in healthcare or pursue specialised training to become more marketable.
Dr Walcott, through his company, NovaMed is keen on helping find a solution for the public health system and displaced doctors.
“We are upskilling the healthcare workforce and allowing for the strengths of the Jamaican healthcare system to be complemented by resources available outside of Jamaica. When our doctors are able to compete on an international playing field and return to Jamaica, it makes our health sector more robust for our government, citizens and private physicians alike,” the NovaMed Founder and Managing Partner said.
NovaMed is a diversified healthcare company that owns and operates several healthcare businesses and introduces world-class healthcare solutions into emerging markets such as the Caribbean.
Explaining how NovaMed is seeking to help address the current challenges, Dr Walcott said that through its portfolio company First Step, NovaMed can assist medical doctors who are seeking to become eligible for residency programmes abroad.
“We assist medical doctors all across the Caribbean with receiving international training that allows them to be more marketable. Should they choose to return home, they would be bringing knowledge, expertise and resources that would otherwise not be available in Jamaica,” said Dr Walcott who is also Jamaican.
Acknowledging the current issue of displaced doctors, Dr Walcott said there was no simple solution to the problem.
“The problems in the health sector are complex, numerous and interdependent on several variables,” he opined.
NovaMed’s health education business, First Step Educational Services, assists with strengthening local doctors’ eligibility for placement in residency programmes in the US. Successful completion of a residency is a requirement to obtain a licence to practice medicine, and in particular a licence to practise a chosen speciality.
The former Rhodes Scholar made it clear, however, that he is not promoting brain drain. “We are not advocating for brain drain. We are simply encouraging our local doctors to benefit from the healthcare innovation and resources available around the world so that you can create a more competitive profile for yourself and return to Jamaica,” Dr Walcott said.
In addition to assisting doctors to become eligible for speciality programmes, Dr Walcott said NovaMed seeks to expose them to the other side of medicine.
“The challenge with the healthcare ecosystem here in Jamaica is that people who do medicine become doctors or become involved in healthcare policy, whereas there’s a lot more that can be done with a medical degree,” said the medical entrepreneur. Medical doctors can consider healthcare entrepreneurship, healthcare business consultancy, academia, and health administration, Dr Walcott noted.
In fact, NovaMed has already begun providing opportunities for medical doctors to develop projects outside of the conventional medical degree.
“For example, we have an internship programme that we just launched involving taking a series of medical students and doctors and allowing them to participate in our COVID response efforts and allowing them to participate in biomedical engineering.”
He noted that the project is in the early stages, but 50 percent of the interns have already started. In relation to First Step, Dr Walcott said the objective is to not only introduce students to institutions but to broaden their perspective on the utility of a medical degree.
Medical intern at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Dr Ava Robertson is one such candidate that participated in NovaMed’s First Step program to improve her academic standing and equip herself with the tools to pursue educational opportunities internationally. She affirms that the program has been tremendously beneficial in allowing her to develop academically and be able to take examinations for international qualification.
“It definitely was a game-changer in terms of how I approached medicine and how I was able to retain and understand the information,” she said.
In explaining why local doctors should consider engaging First Step to help prepare for the USMLE, Dr Walcott said: “We ensure that our medical doctors are marketable to be accepted into a speciality programme which is tantamount to saying they are better positioned to get placement in the US. The main qualification is that you have to demonstrate basic science knowledge and good clinical knowledge. That’s where our consultants and educators will assist.”
Dr Walcott added: “We also make sure that you are very marketable, in very tangible ways, not just in terms of dressing up your CV or writing your letter of recommendation we make sure that you have the knowledge to excel in examinations on an international level.”
First Step has so far engaged over 200 medical students in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.