UCT in Eden
UCT in Eden was launched at a formal ceremony involving the Mayor of George, the UCT Vice-Chancellor, the Department of Health District Manager of Eden District, the CEO of George Hospital and other dignitaries at the Eden Municipality on 14 May 2015. At that stage final year medical students were sent to Eden to do their family medicine rotation in Oudtshoorn Hospital and clinics as well as their Obstetric rotation in George Hospital.
Since then the program has grown from strength to strength. Since 2016 final year medical students have been given the option of doing the whole of their final year in Eden. Students are placed at George Hospital for most clinical rotations but also spend six weeks at a District Hospital. Starting with sixteen students in 2016, the program now hosts twenty-one medical students in 2018. In 2018 the Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences of UCT also made it possible for physiotherapy students to do rotations in the Eden District, with thirteen students in Eden at any time.
Medical students give very positive feedback about their learning experience in Eden and especially appreciate the extra clinical exposure they get and the one-on-one teaching with dedicated specialists. Their academic marks stay on par with their previous marks and those of their peers who complete the studies in Cape Town. Students who were in Eden report that they are more confident interns, having been exposed to having more responsibility in actual patient care and contributing to the functioning of the ward teams. Training at smaller hospitals (regional and district hospitals) also allowed them to see more undifferentiated patients (not yet diagnosed with a specific disease and not assigned to a specialized department) which helps to develop their clinical reasoning. The patient profile in Eden is a good reflection of health problems doctors will manage in the public health care system and as private practitioners. They also had the opportunity to witness the health system functioning in a rural area and we foresee that many of them will opt for a career choice in a rural setting – in line with research findings.
Presently students follow the same curriculum as their counterparts in Cape Town. They also do the same assessments, which are done in George Hospital, generally with a combined team of Eden and UCT specialists.
It is foreseen for the near future to develop an alternative curriculum that is based on a contemporary model of longitudinal integrated learning. This model would make it easier to have students spend longer times at district hospitals, and was shown by international research to develop graduates that perform well clinically and have a high level of key attributes like patient-centeredness, empathy, social accountability, teamwork and resilience.
When this gets implemented the Eden training platform could be made available to thirty-six medical students.
The students in George are accommodated in four lovely self-catering residence blocks, each enjoying a single room. The residence is across the street from the hospital with a no need to brave public transport or traffic jams to and from “work”.
In the words of our students when asked, “are you ready for internship?” Thulie Mayaba and many others answered, “I am prepared. I am more prepared than I would have been in Cape Town. I learned a lot from the patients and from being In George.”
George Herald Youtube clip in which students share their experience: