UKZN’s Medical Degree Receives Full Accreditation for a Further Five Years

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The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) recently assessed UKZN’s undergraduate Medical degree and recommended full accreditation for the next five years.

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) had many reasons to celebrate as the Council listed numerous commendations showcasing not only its exceptional medical programme and core curriculum, but also its excellent structures, its Student Support programme, its Decentralised Clinical Training programme as well as its readiness to welcome the 90 Fidel Castro Cuban Collaboration Medical students who will join UKZN at the end of July.

The CHS was congratulated for its improved communication, its excellent student support services, its homestay project in rural KwaZulu-Natal, which promotes social cohesion as well as its decentralised clinical training programme. The HPCSA also recognised the School of Clinical Medicine, other Schools involved in the medical curriculum and CHS leadership and staff for their enthusiasm and commitment to improving their medical curriculum on an ongoing basis.

The accreditation process of degrees is ongoing as curriculum content and in some cases, enrolment targets change periodically. The purpose of accreditation is primarily to promote excellence in educational preparation, whilst providing assurance to the public that the graduates would have a core of knowledge and skills required for competent, safe, ethical, effective, and independent professional practice.

For CHS this year’s accreditation site visits included the assessment of its Decentralised Clinical Training and Primary healthcare sites including Queen Nandi (Lower Umfolozi) Hospital in Empangeni, Stanger Hospital, Edendale and Northdale Hospitals in Pietermaritzburg, Cato Manor Clinic and KwaMashu Community Health Clinic. The DCTP was given a resounding “thumbs up”.

Another purpose of the accreditation visit was to establish whether the Institution is able to increase its enrolment targets as per the call of the Minister of Health. The HPCSA assesses the implications of the HEIs increasing their intake in relation to the facilities, the staff-student ratios, laboratory space and student support. During this round, the HPCSA fully accredited the programme for an intake of 250 first-year students.

The assessments are largely based on a very comprehensive self-evaluation questionnaire, which are then assessed by an evaluation task team. The evaluation task team considers consistency and a wide variety of issues, ranging from governance through to student support, as well as demographics of first-year and graduating students, other e-learning and library facilities and student participation in the Institution’s selection of staff. Support to staff, staff training, exposure of students to research and methodologies are also considered.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of CHS, Professor Busisiwe Ncama was delighted at the outcome, ‘It is a result of teamwork among all staff including input from students and KZN Department of Health as partners. I wish to thank everybody that is involved in the MBChB programme for their dedication and hard work.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis