Where are our Graduates now?

September 15, 2018
Over the last 10 years we've helped over 100 students graduate to become qualified health workers in Malawi. We've got some way to go before the whole country is painted orange in our colours - but this map shows where our alumni are working now.

It's now over 10 years since we saw our first student graduate.  When people ask us how many graduates we have, as we've grown, this question has become increasingly difficult to answer.  We now work at five universities in Malawi, all have different academic years and some students have remedial and supplementary examinations, meaning our numbers constantly fluctuate as students complete their courses at different times and graduation ceremonies differ.

At the time of writing we have 97 graduates consisting of 58 doctors, 18 physiotherapists, 12 pharmacists, 3 nurses, 3 clinical officers, 1 psychiatric nurse, 1 health manager, 1 medical laboratory scientist!  Over the last 10 years we've also supported 7 students who, unfortunately were unable to finish their courses and 10 students training as psychiatric clinical officers, whom were supported with partial scholarships for one year, meaning that our wider alumni community encompasses over 100 individuals.

But, where are our graduates now?  What are they doing with their careers?  This year, we conducted our largest ever survey of our alumni community to find out some of the answers to these questions.  

10 of our graduates are currently working outside of Malawi, but all the remaining 87 graduates are working in the country.  Nine of our graduates working outside Malawi are doctors, the other is a physiotherapist.  8 have scholarships with institutions or universities to complete their specialty training.

Of these graduates, one is specializing in mental health in Nigeria; one specializing in medicine in Tanzania and another in China; one specializing in neurology in South Africa; two specializing in public health in Italy and the other in London; one specialising in nutritional biology in California and our physiotherapist is undertaking her Masters in the UK under a Commonwealth scholarship.

The remaining two graduates are gaining experience in Lesotho, where salaries are higher and they can save for the cost of their specialization when the time comes.  Scholarships for postgraduate training are few and competition for places are high.  

We hope that when the time is right, all of these graduates will return to Malawi, providing specialist skills to a country with a massive shortage of professional services.  We're proud that 90% of our graduates are still working in Malawi.  It is always our hope that our students will stay in the country and indeed we try to select students to ensure this is the case, but we know ultimately our graduates need to do what is best for themselves and their families and make the most of opportunities that come their way.

This year we have introduced student contracts when interviewing our students so that we are up front with our expectations.  We now ask our students to stay in Malawi, at a minimum for the number of years that they have been supported by Medic to Medic, so for example, should a student be supported by Medic to Medic for six years, they will be expected to work in Malawi for a minimum of six years.  Should they wish to leave prior to this, they are asked to repay the costs for the number of years that they have left.

Most encouragingly, following our survey, every graduate was keen to get involved in Medic to Medic initiatives to help us become locally sustainable on the ground and support our current students training as health workers.  Our alumni are added to a WhatsApp group so that they can become connected to the wider Medic to Medic community and work together on fundraising events.  We look forward to working with our graduates and building strong relationships, to help get the alumni network fully functional.  In time, they will help to provide scholarships to their younger colleagues in training and help provide hands on support to the international team during the year.