Background: Because of the shortage of health professionals, particularly in specialty areas, Rwanda initiated the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program. In this program, faculty from United States teaching institutions (USF) "twin" with Rwandan Faculty (RF) to transfer skills. This paper assesses the twinning model, exploring USF and RF goal setting, satisfaction and perceptions of the effectiveness of skill transfer within the twinning model.
Methods: All USF and RF in the HRH Program from August 2012-May 2014 were invited to participate. An 85-item questionnaire for USF and 71-item questionnaire for RF were administered via Survey Monkey in April and May 2014. Associations among primary outcomes were assessed and factors related with outcomes were modeled using logistic regression.
Results: Most RF and USF reported setting goals with their twin (89% and 71%, respectively). Half of RF (52%) reported effective skill transfer compared to 10% of USF. Only 38% of RF and 28% of USF reported being very satisfied with the twinning model. There was significant overlap in the three operational outcomes. For RF, the following factors were associated with outcomes: for effective skill transfer, being able to communicate in a common language and working at a nursing site outside of Kigali; and for satisfaction, 7+ years of professional experience and being part of a male RF-female USF twin pair. For USF, the following factors were associated with outcomes: for setting goals, prior teaching experience; and for satisfaction, experience in low resource settings for one month or less and feeling that HRH promotes a culture of respect.
Conclusions: Twinning is the cornerstone of the HRH Program in Rwanda. These findings helped the HRH team identify key areas to improve the twinning experience including better recruitment and orientation of USF and RF, consideration of additional factors during the twinning process, provide language training support, facilitate joint twin activities and cross-cultural training and improve the site leadership buy-in and support of the program. These results can inform other programs using twinning to develop skills in the health workforce.