Study Medicine in South Africa: 7 Things to Know

There is at least one child at every institution that when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, they will answer that they want to be a doctor. For them, doctors are heroes that they idolize and wanted to become because they help people cure their illnesses and save lives. Up to date, many children, students, and people still dream of becoming the model that they aspire to be – a doctor.

However, being a doctor or any professional is not miraculously given to anyone. It is earned. It will take your time, effort, and patience in exchange for the title, respect, and honor that you will receive once you finish the degree. You must become a hard-working student who can handle your time comfortably because after you finally become a doctor, you will be handling precious and priceless lives. To be a good and skilled doctor, you must get your education from prestigious universities or medical institutions offering degrees in medicine. One of the jobs of a doctor is to save and cure people so if you will be handling the lives of other people, you must be skilled in all aspects.

This country is one of the challenging countries to be in if you wanted to study medicine in South Africa because of the limited and outdated equipment. However, it is the best country to study in if you wanted to experience and learn the traditional ways of treating and saving someone with limited resources. Most importantly, even if they lack the resources for good environment learning, they have the most eligible and annually accredited universities because of the quality of education being taught. If you want to study in South Africa, here is some information about getting medical degrees in the country.

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1. Can you study medicine in South Africa as an international student?

Absolutely! Education in South Africa is available not only to its citizens but also to foreign or international students who want to study medicine in South Africa. Most likely, if a university is accepting international students, they are also accepting international students applying for medical school. There are many medical schools in South Africa indicating on their official websites that they are and will be accepting international students. These universities include the University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand, etc.

2. What are the requirements to study medicine in this country?

For international students who want to study medicine in South Africa, the requirements needed for admission are similar to the requirements of other local students except for additional requirements about their eligibility to study in a foreign country and documents supporting their identity.

To be specific, for example, in the official website of the University of Cape Town Medical School, the requirements are several grade quotas from their previous educational institutions and score quotas from the entrance exam which are called admission point score, identity documents such as a birth certificate or passport, and other necessary papers such as application form and student visa. Moreover, students who come from non-English institutions or high school must take an English proficiency exam and submit their scores in the admissions office of the university.

3. In what language is the medical curriculum in South Africa?

Fortunately, aside from their native languages, the local people of South Africa are also very proficient in understanding and speaking the English language because it is their second language. This is also the reason why many international students go to this country, especially those from the western countries who want to pursue high-quality education at the cheapest price. One university that offers English courses for international students is the University of Cape Town. For students who are not yet proficient in English, other supplementary language courses are also available in the university.

4. How difficult is it to study medicine in South Africa?

In terms of getting into a university or getting accepted into a medical program in South Africa, the difficulty is relatively high because the number of students that they could allow in the 13 universities in South Africa is very limited. The administration of each university then has no choice but to lessen the student applications by making entrance exams competitive. But it will not stop in admissions, on average the dropout rate of universities in South Africa is almost 6% including other courses, while the dropout rates from students studying medicine in South Africa are around 4-5%.

5. How many medical schools are in South Africa?

As of now, medical schools in South Africa are very few having only thirteen universities that are accredited in the higher education department of South Africa. Even so, they still accept international students because of the quality of education they provide. Not long from now, because of how good the education in the country is, the number of medical institutions will soon rise and many will offer an education based on the demand for courses.

6. What are the components of the medical program in South Africa?

Like most medical curricula around the world, the medical curriculum in most universities in South Africa is very similar. The duration of the whole curriculum is 6 years of studying and additional two years of clinical internship for practicing what they learned from the degree.

The six years of study are composed of theoretical studies in its first three years which sometimes involve activities and practices about the already present information on medicine while the second half of the duration is for practical application of the theories they have learned in their early years.

Some of the activities or applications are usually held in hospitals to prepare them for the next two years of their clinical internships in which students will be given shifts and will be assigned tasks like what a doctor should be.

7. What do you need to become a doctor in South Africa?

After finishing your degree in medicine and your clinical internship, you will be awarded a designation certificate by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Once you receive the certificate, you will need to complete one year of compulsory community service before you start practicing medicine with other people. After this, you will be recognized by the HPCSA to take their board examination for doctors. Once you pass this exam, you will be considered a fully-fledged member of the health professionals’ community.


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