Home > Activities > Teaching
Home > Activities > Teaching


Teaching Activities

Chair: Departmental Education Committee :

Professor Vanessa Burch

The Department of Medicine is very active in the education and training of both undergraduate and postgraduate students in medicine and its allies sciences. Nearly 1000 undergraduate medical students pass through the Department every year, and more than 200 postgraduate students are registered with us for higher degrees. Members of the Department also play an active part at Faculty level in running and developing academic programmes of quality: Prof Janet Seggie is the Faculty Portfolio Manager for Undergraduate Education, Prof Vanessa Burch convenes the MB ChB Programme Committee.

Undergraduate studies

Becoming a Doctor Course: new MB ChB Curriculum

Students take a Clinical Skills course over Semesters 3-5, as part of the Becoming a Doctor component of the new undergraduate medical curriculum. Here they learn the basic skills of communication with patients, history taking and physical examination, as well as embarking on the acquisition of a sound basis of theoretical knowledge of pathophysiology and clinical medicine. In Semester 3 they attend a single tutorial each week with an experienced clinical methods tutor focusing on practical skills; in Semesters 4 and 5 they additionally attend a tutorial with a senior registrar or consultant in the Department devoted to the recognition of abnormality and the diagnosis of illness in patients.

Introduction to Clinical Practice: Semester 6: New MB ChB curriculum

This multidisciplinary semester is run by the Department. It is designed to expand and consolidate the clinical skills developed in the earlier semesters of the curriculum. Students spend a series of five 3-week attachments rotating through the domains of: Adult Health - attachments to the medical wards and Emergency Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital; Women's Health - introduction to gynaecological examination and assessment; Perinatal Health - introductory obstetrics and neonatology; Mental Health - introduction to psychiatric and geriatric assessment; Clinical Skills - intensive training in Basic Life Support, ENT and ophthalmoscopic examination, electrocardiography and technical skills such as phlebotomy and catheterisation.

Medicine: Semesters 7-8 (Year 4): new MB ChB curriculum

Fourth year medical students spend a block of eight weeks in the Department of Medicine, attached to the medical units at our district hospitals (Somerset, GF Jooste and Victoria Hospitals). They spend additional medicine time in Acute Care medicine and Ambulatory Care medicine at the Khayelitsha Community Health Centre. The course has been completely refashioned, and draws on the best of our tradition of exposing students meaningfully to a range of patients and doctors, while introducing the most modern and efficient principles of learning and assessment into the course.

Medicine: Semesters 9-10 (Year 5): new MB ChB curriculum

In their fifth year, medical students spend some time in the following specialised areas of internal medicine Neurology, Dermatology and Pharmacology.

Sixth year: outgoing curriculum

Medicine is an eight week  block consisting of 4 weeks of ward care, 2 weeks of ambulatory care and 2 weeks of acute care.

Ward care- attached to medical units in Victoria, New Somerset and Mitchell's Plain hospitals participating in intakes, post intakes and ward rounds. They care and manage patients admitted in the wards.

Ambu-care - done at GSH in the outpatient department. Students encounter patients presenting for evaluation of undifferentiated clinical complaints in an ambulatory setting.

Acute care- students are attached to the emergency units at GSH, NSH and MPDH evaluating patients with undifferentiated clinical complaints in an emergency setting.

Some students spend the whole year in George Hospital doing the same programme as those in Cape Town.

Postgraduate studies

Doctoral degrees

Doctoral students are registered for the PhD and MD degrees, which are degrees offered by dissertation. Our students may hold either a medical or a science qualification. Our students are involved in both basic research and in applied clinical studies. Further information about these projects will be found under the specific divisions in which the students are working.

Masters degrees

Our registrars, training as specialists within the clinical disciplines, are simultaneously registered for the MMed (Master of Medicine) degree. This is a two-part degree awarded on satisfactory completion of an examination, and the submission of a dissertation based on original scientific investigation. Within the basic sciences, students work towards the MSc degree. We also have students registered for the MPhil degree in various fields, including bioethics and epidemiology.

Honours degrees

Honours students, particularly students with a science background, are trained in several divisions with a research platform in the basic sciences.

Specialist training

The Department of Medicine produces a large number of specialists in internal medicine and its associated subspecialties. Our trainees are appointed as registrars and follow a 4 year training programme following which, they present themselves for Fellowship the examinations set by the College of Physicians of South Africa. If successful, they are awarded the FCP(SA) qualification and are eligible for registration as specialists with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. During their training, our registrars are placed on a rotation during which they are attached for three months at a time to a specific unit or division. Approximately half this time is spent in general medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, our district hospitals and the Brooklyn Chest Hospital. Here they gain experience in a wide cross section of medicine at both secondary and tertiary level. The remainder of the time is spent attached to some of the divisions with a subspecialist focus, including cardiology, geriatric medicine, gastroenterology, hepatology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology, respiratory medicine, and rheumatology Some of this time may also be spent in the Emergency Unit, the Coronary Care Unit or the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital. The divisions of Dermatology, Neurology and Clinical Pharmacology train their own registrars towards their Fellowships in Dermatology, Neurology or Clinical Pharmacology and subsequent registration as specialists.

Subspecialty training is provided in most divisions. Senior registrar posts are available in for those registrars who have already qualified as specialists, but wish to train further in a specific subdiscipline. In the fields of cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, rheumatology and gastroenterology, this leads to formal certification through the Colleges of Medicine and registration with the HPCSA as a subspecialist.