MUST has used the Community Based Education, Research and Service (COBERS) approach as its underlying philosophy in the training of health professionals since its inception. This is aimed at producing relevant health professionals with the right skills, attitudes, and commitment to work in rural places in Uganda where 80% of the population lives. To strengthen students’ primary healthcare experience, in 1994 MUST established two lodging facilities near the community placement sites (Kinoni and Rugazi) where the medical students stayed and visited communities and participated in clinical care of patients. As student numbers increased and more programs (nursing and other allied health sciences) developed, more sites were identified, using the MESAU minimum site selection criteria developed in 2011. Currently MUST uses 40 sites for student placements.
In preparation for community placement, students are equipped with skills in leadership and management practices which they apply using a challenge model. During COBERS placement, the students undertake community leadership and management projects in multi-disciplinary teams of 8-10 members. They have both faculty and site supervisors who are trained in supervision skills as well as leadership and management. Students are required to generate a work plan of their involvement in primary healthcare activities at the community placement sites.