Training needs of medical managers in public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.
National healthcare departments all over the world are facing the problem of rationing very limited resource to achieve acceptable levels of health care for their citizens. At the centre of healthcare challenges is the problem of an increasing disease burden, increasing pharmaceutical prices, increasing healthcare worker remuneration and the globalisation of healthcare services. Under such restrictive and competitive conditions, healthcare organisations need to find more efficient ways of working. This puts healthcare managers at the forefront of efforts to improve healthcare services and to find new ways to do more with shrinking resources. The need for well-trained managers is at its most critical level, especially in Third World countries like South Africa. This study set out to establish whether training needs existed amongst Medical Managers in public hospitals in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Should training needs be found to exist, the aim was to establish where those needs may be. The study then identified what Medical Managers perceived as the preferred training methods for delivering the necessary training. The study had a sample size of 30 respondents out of the 54 potential respondents. This represents a response rate of 55.5 percent. The research method that was chosen for the study combined both the quantitative and qualitative methods through a questionnaire that listed 37 tasks. Each Medical Manager had to rate these tasks on their relevance, their own perceived performance of the task, the likelihood of receiving any required training through a formal training method like courses for each task and finally the likelihood of receiving training through on the job training for each task. The quest ionnaire also included an openended question that asked respondents to list up to ten additional training needs which had not been covered by the questionnaire. The study found that all the tasks which were audited were relevant, that the perceived level of overall performance was high and there was an almost equal preference for both formal and informal training method. Based on this study‟s findings, training initiatives targeting this group of managers should ideally combine both formal and informal training methods. A recommendation for further research with a more qualitative approach is being made to better understand the context within which the training needs exist. The minimisation of subjectivity of ratings through the involvement of Medical Manager Supervisors might also reveal a more objective overall outcome to the analysis of the problem.