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PhD by Publication Challenging but Rewarding for HEARD Researcher

April 23, 2015

Dr Gavin George celebrating his academic achievement with his wife Janet.Dr Gavin George celebrating his academic achievement with his wife Janet.
For Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) Senior Researcher Dr Gavin George drawing his dissertation from six papers published in peer-reviewed journals was a rewarding experience.

The fact that PhD by publication had not previously been done in the College of Law and Management Studies meant that there was little guidance in this respect. However, George’s passion for his research that offers solutions to the problem that South Africa’s public sector faces in attracting and retaining qualified health personnel, motivated him to persevere.

George’s dissertation titled: “Human Resources for Health (HRH) in South Africa: Identifying Challenges, Migration Intentions and Reviewing Policy Responses”, explored challenges facing South African health personnel and the subsequent factors which contributed to the migration of health workers.

Its findings present a considered analysis of the systemic challenges the public health system faces while also illuminating the important role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in attracting and retaining health workers.

‘The thesis specific recommendations derived from the study  inform  the ambitious plan of scaling up of the national antiretroviral treatment programme and the effective delivery of primary health care services, while improving access and the delivery of health care for all South Africans,’ explained George.

‘More generally, this  research also provides insight into the human resource for health crisis in South Africa which is inhibiting the country’s ability to adequately address the high burden of disease and thereby impeding its progress in achieving the health related Millennium Development Goals,’ he added.

When George registered for this degree in 2012 he knew that as an academic who has worked as a Researcher for almost 15 years it was a necessary step to take his career to even greater heights.

‘I did a Commerce masters which I think was very useful for myself. I think business orientated degrees are very important more broadly as they equip individuals with some valuable skills which they can take into the workplace. I would have undertaken a PhD sooner but it was important that I was able to set aside the requisite amount of time and find a topic that I could engage in for two years. So I guess, my aim of forging an academic career was the real motivation for furthering my studies and undertaking a PhD,’ said George.

When George registered for his PhD, he was a father of eight-month-old Gabriella and towards the end of 2014 the family welcomed their son, Caleb.

Being a father and a husband were his top priorities so maintaining a healthy balance between work, home and studying was tough; but having the support of his wife reaffirmed that his decision to pursue this qualification was the right one.

‘I think my wife is very relieved that I can now just spend a lot more time looking after the kids,’ said George. ‘My family is very important to me and keeps me going constantly. I enjoy undertaking research and there is tremendous satisfaction once your research is published. Getting the first paper started was the most difficult. Once the first was published the PhD rolled on from there. Having the papers published proved most satisfying and this kept me motivated.’

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