UCT Internal Medicine Society

Ruan Spies and John Lee: Co-founders and Heads


We are the co-founders of the UCT Internal Medicine Society and serve as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively. In this capacity we oversee the planning, execution and evaluation of all the society's activities. We aim to lead MedSoc in a fashion which inspires our members and we further aim to strive for excellence in the society's guiding principles: mentorship, skills development, teaching and learning and research. 


MedSoc was conceptualized during the Spring of 2017. I (Ruan) had just completed my rotation through General Medicine and I shared with John my elation at this first "real taste" of clinical medicine. I finally felt what it was like to express myself through the practice of medicine but I was disheartened by the short amount of time spent in General Medicine.

John was completing his BSc (Med) Hons as part of the intercalated MBChB program at this stage and, over the course of the year, developed a profound appreciation for the importance of research and the role of the clinician-scientist. He shared with me an idea of creating a platform whereby students were facilitated in engaging with research at an accessible, appropriate level. 

We realized there was an opportunity to create a single body which addressed both of our insights and with the development of further ideas, this became the UCT Internal Medicine Society.  With tremendous assistance from staff members in the Department of Medicine in Professor Ntobeko Ntusi and Dr Charle Viljoen; and the formation of our dedicated committee, MedSoc has grown from a small idea into something truly special - a society with the potential to facilitate excellence in medicine.


Why Internal Medicine:

Ruan - I'm really drawn to the methodical yet creative, "out of the box" nature of thought that internal medicine requires. One almost has to be a detective in the process of diagnosis while the application of individualized management requires a solid knowledge foundation and a meticulous attention to detail.


John - The problem-solving component, in the context of a "whole-body" understanding of the patient, is what I love about internal medicine. Every organ system is involved and all of their interesting nuances need to be considered.


Jennifer Rackstraw: Clinical years portfolio                    

The clinical students’ portfolio wants to foster enthusiasm for internal medicine in students in years 4-6, where students have had exposure to the field. We look to host events where students can further their knowledge, improve skills set and inspire further passion for medicine. This is in the form of interest events, a series called Mastering Medicine. Four talks will be lead by respected physicians at Groote Schuur. Furthermore, we aim to help prepare fourth years for their first clinical exams in their General Medicine Block. We are also looking at establishing a database of useful clinical medicine resources. Ultimately, we hope that we prepare students further to become astute, passionate and dedicated clinicians. I love medicine because it is the backbone of everything we do as doctors, and it never fails to fascinate me.

Hlonipho Sarila: Social media portfolio

The social development portfolio is specifically made to recruit new members to the society as well as improving the experience of those already signed up. This is mostly achieved by the use of social media platforms in interacting with members of the society considering that we live in a digital age. Furthermore, this portfolio helps organize events and activities done in the society. I love medicine because life is too short to pursue things that don’t make much sense, and medicine, well that just makes sense to me.

Yin-Tin Michelle Yuan: Secretary

The role of the Secretary is chiefly to take and distribute the minutes of each meeting as well as to co-ordinate general administrative tasks. However, as our committee believes very strongly in integration, the Secretary collaborates with other portfolios where possible. I love problem-solving and Internal Medicine is medical problem-solving at its finest!

Wakithi Mabaso: Sponsorship and fundraising portfolio

This portfolio is responsible for building relationships with sponsors, funders and affiliates to access resources that will ensure the running of the society through raised funds, sponsored goods and inter-institutional affiliations. Managing these relationships for the robust growth of the society and working closely with Treasury to deliver. I love medicine because of the magic of its complexity, a complexity which seems to resolve with time and practice. And when the pieces of the puzzle come together after however many attempts, it feels as if that spell has been undone.

Mary Gouws: Clinical skills portfolio

This portfolio will be organising and running workshops aimed at developing clinical skills. This includes introducing pre-clinical students to basic skills such as phlebotomy and IV access. We also aim to provide opportunities for more senior students to add to and refine the skills they have already acquired. I love the logic, the problem solving and the variety that internal medicine has to offer. There is always something new and interesting to discover.

Luca Kennedy: Treasury

Management of the financial component of the society so that all financial needs of the society may be met effectively and sustainably. Human physiology and pathology has never failed to excite and surprise me especially pathology in its development and presentation. Internal medicine only further feeds this interest by providing unique and complex puzzles and challenges for me to solve in my quest for optimal patient care.

Ilhaam Esak: Pre-clinical portfolio

The main pre-clinical portfolio activity for this year are student led tutorials and bedside tutorials for pre-clinical students. The topics to be covered are common, core conditions that are often asked about in clinical years during internal medicine rotations. We hope to help bridge the gap between the pre-clinical and clinical years of medical school, give students a little bit of clinical exposure and create a mentorship relationship between students across all years of study. I came to love internal medicine because of the inspiring consultants and registrars I came into contact with during my 4th year Gen Med block. They taught me the beauty of solving the puzzle of patient’s clinical presentations, how fulfilling it is to see a management plan fall into place and ultimately watch people get well.

Eran Shorer: Research portfolio

The Research portfolio of the UCT Internal Medicine Society aims at directly involving students in clinical research projects throughout the various departments within Groote Schuur Hospital. Along with providing students clinical research exposure, the society aims at helping students develop core competencies in research such as academic writing, biostatistics, and project presentation. I love medicine! Medicine utilizes centuries of human knowledge culminating in evidence, philosophy and technology purposed to relieve the suffering of humans in the current age

Stefan van der Walt: IT portfolio

My role is to ensure all IT related things run smoothly and to facilitate communication. I am also passionate about internal medicine and contribute to running of the society. My rotation through general medicine was one of the best periods of my life in medical school, and I wish to help others see this.