Review article

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Characteristics of compulsory service programs for medical professionals in the Andean states

Características del servicio social para profesionales médicos en los estados andinos


Introduction There are few studies on the impact of social service programs on health in the professional development of doctors in the Andean States (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela). The purpose of these programs is to increase the availability of human resources in health in rural and remote areas.

Objective To describe the regulations of social service programs for medical professionals in the Andean countries.

Methods We carried out a bibliographic review of normative documents concerning the social service for medical professionals using websites of governments of the Andean States as data sources. We sought to obtain information regarding service conditions, funding of these programs—including remunerations, and means of program allocation. Additionally, we used PubMed/MEDLINE to find complementary information on mandatory social services in these countries.

Results Social service for medical professionals is established under a regulatory framework in all the Andean countries, except for Argentina, where this program does not exist. Participants receive remuneration (except in Bolivia, where students perform the service). The allocation systems used for these programs are heterogeneous, and in some Andean countries, the allocation is merit-based. Participation in social programs influences later professional opportunities (Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela) and the ability to specialize (Chile and Peru).

Conclusions It is necessary to study the impact of these programs on the professional development of the participants to design and implement quality improvement strategies tailored to each context.

No English version is available for this article.