The Vanguard SLC was the first custom-built CBE site in Cape Town at which education and research could take place, and has since been followed by the Vredenburg site. They have provided multi-disciplinary, supervised, learning opportunities for all medical and health and rehabilitation sciences students. These placements have allowed our students to understand the social context of health and disease, to learn to work cooperatively with communities and health services, to learn clinical skills and to conduct community-based research projects.
The aim has been to expose our students to a learning environment that is safe and conducive for learning and to ensure that the experience of CBE is so positive that they would want to return to community practice in an underserved area in the future. Given the ongoing shortage of adequate public sector facilities, the establishment of additional purpose-built educational centers, in George for example, remain on the Directorate’s agenda.
A situational analysis of the Saldanha Bay Sub-District was conducted in 2010 with the aim of establishing a rural teaching Centre in the Sub-District to respond to needs in underserved communities; engage with the social context of health and disease; increase the knowledge and understanding of health, disease, disability; and, expose students to challenges in under-resourced areas. It provided an understanding of the specific context and challenges within which a targeted rural student teaching site and placement programme would be located, in partnership with Vredenburg Provincial Hospital and the Provincial DoH.
The rural academic programme based in Vredenburg was implemented in 2011. The Vredenburg house accommodates up to 18 students close to the hospital and is fitted with video conferencing and ADSL connections for distance learning. A joint staff Senior Family Physician oversees and coordinates the training of students on the platform. The multi-professional programme continues to meet all teaching objectives successfully, with a major part played by the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and academic activities have been integrated into the service platform, adding value to the delivery of health services in the area.
The site has offered abundant research opportunities; student projects have contributed to quality improvement initiatives and health promotion activities at a community level; HPCSA accreditation as a postgraduate training site for Family Medicine has attracted doctors to the Vredenburg Provincial Hospital, thereby helping to address staff shortages; the academic platform has encouraged staff training thus improving staff recruitment and retention; and, above all, Vredenburg presents an opportunity for students to experience a District Hospital serving a rural population as part of a district package of care.
The Vredenburg site is important as a precedent for further development of the teaching platform outside of Cape Town.