South African students who study medicine abroad will have to complete a one-year bridging course at a local university. According to a Sunday Tribune report, since 1 July a new policy by the National Department of Health compels all foreign-trained doctors to complete a one-year bridging course at a local university.
While some have accepted the policy, many foreign-trained students and returning graduates, are disgruntled, the report says. They claimed that no proper consultation process took place and that the policy was “up in the air”.
Health Department representative Gavin Steel said the reason for the policy guidelines was that at some foreign universities, especially in China and Mauritius, students did not receive sufficient practical training. Steel also said graduates were not exposed to diseases such as HIV/Aids and tuberculosis at foreign universities, while they were prevalent in South Africa.
The policy states graduates who study at foreign universities must declare this with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) going forward and that the foreign university should be recognised by the council. Spokesperson Fezile Sifunda said there were 1,570 foreign-qualified South African medical practitioners registered with the council.
Annie Tooray of Pravda and Knowles Attorneys, who is acting for some foreign-trained graduates, said in the report that the guidelines lacked a consultative nature. “Information will be requested from the department to challenge it. Graduates would now have to face another wasted year of clinical bridging. There is no mention of costs or where this programme will be done as yet,” said Tooray.
She said the graduates would still have to face HPCSA board exams, two years of internship and one year of community service.
Steel is quoted inn the report as saying it was important that the policy was implemented as some graduates had never worked on human bodies before.Sunday Tribune report