Context and background: To describe the Family Medicine (FM) postgraduate training programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Actions and activities: This paper was created through a review of documents, and discussions with past and present coordinators and key stakeholders at four campuses in the English-speaking Caribbean (ESC).
Despite intermittent setbacks the FM programme in the ESC has grown due to: (1) The presence of an umbrella institution in the UWI. (2) The role of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians providing a unifying force of advocacy and cooperation. (3) Collaboration of staff across four sites despite large distances, differing departmental and campus structures and financial models; and varying levels of local medical and public health support. (4) The use of a modular design for academic content, which means that students have comparable learning experiences. (5) Streamlining of exit examinations, thus sharing resources in the assessment process. (6) A strong presence of FM in the undergraduate curriculum.
Despite a variety of timelines in programme development and funding mechanisms, over 150 physicians have graduated in FM in the past five years. We identify the unifying strategies and institutions which made this possible and present this model as an option for new programmes in the developing world.