As globalization of surgical training increases, growing evidence demonstrates a positive impact of global surgery experiences on trainees from high-income countries (HIC). However, few studies have assessed the impact of these largely unidirectional experiences from the perspectives of host surgical personnel from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). This study aimed to assess the impact of unidirectional visitor involvement from the perspectives of host surgical personnel in Kijabe, Kenya.
Voluntary semi-structured interviews were conducted with 43 host surgical personnel at a tertiary referral hospital in Kijabe, Kenya. Qualitative analysis was used to identify salient and recurring themes related to host experiences with visiting surgical personnel. Perceived benefits and challenges of HIC involvement and host interest in bidirectional exchange were assessed.
Benefits of visitor involvement included positive learning experiences (95.3%), capacity building (83.7%), exposure to diverse practices and perspectives (74.4%), improved work ethic (51.2%), shared workload (44.2%), access to resources (41.9%), visitor contributions to patient care (41.9%), and mentorship opportunities (37.2%). Challenges included short stays (86.0%), visitor adaptation and integration (83.7%), cultural differences (67.4%), visitors with problematic behaviors (53.5%), learner saturation (34.9%), language barriers (32.6%), and perceived power imbalances between HIC and LMIC personnel (27.9%). Nearly half of host participants expressed concerns about the lack of balanced exchange between HIC and LMIC programs (48.8%). Almost all (96.9%) host trainees expressed interest in a bidirectional exchange program.
As the field of global surgery continues to evolve, further assessment and representation of host perspectives is necessary to identify and address challenges and promote equitable, mutually beneficial partnerships between surgical programs in HIC and LMIC.