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The MBChB degree is a six-year degree. The first three years concentrate on the Basic Medical Sciences, as well as laying the foundations for public and primary health care. Students will be taught on the Missionvale Campus, and will also complete community-based placements in underserved areas within Nelson Mandela Bay. The fourth and fifth years have a more clinical focus and students will rotate through different clinical disciplines in Dora Nginza, Livingstone, PE Provincial, Elizabeth Donkin and Uitenhage hospitals as well as spending time in district hospitals and community health centres and clinics. The sixth year is known as a student intern year. Students will spend six months in a district hospital in the Eastern Cape, and six months rotating through clinical disciplines in the Port Elizabeth hospital complex.

The first three years concentrate on the Basic Medical Sciences, including subjects such as Chemistry and Physics, Medical Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Integrated Pathology. In addition, contextual skills such as Languages, Communication, Professionalism, and Public Health are taught in both a theoretical and practical manner by being centered on community-based placements. Clinical skills are also taught.

In years four to six, students rotate through the clinical disciplines of Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, General Surgery and Urology, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, and clinical specialities including Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Emergency Medical Care, Orthopaedics, Radiography and Anaesthetics.

The curriculum has been submitted to the Department of Higher Education’s, Council for Medical Education. We are still awaiting final feedback.

In many ways, the degree we are offering is similar to other South African medical degrees. It is a six-year degree that will produce a graduate who fulfills the HPCSA graduate attributes and who, on qualification, is competent to work as an intern in a South African hospital. However, in addition to this, we plan to train students in an interprofessional manner so that they have trained and worked alongside other healthcare professionals. We strive to focus on preventive and promotive health care in addition to curative and rehabilitative care. We aim to produce a fit-for-purpose graduate who can contribute to the Eastern Cape and South Africa's priority health care needs.

Traditionally, the training of medical practitioners has embraced the notion of curative health, to help people suffering from disease or injury. However, a central role of health professionals is to maintain health and prevent disease. The preventive approach is research-driven and forms part of public health care, which is evidence-based, practical and astute. Therefore, to develop the capacity of medical doctors, South Africa needs to train them in preventive and promotive medicine – or in other words primary or basic health care. Mandela University plans to pay special attention to this and to bring a strong Primary Healthcare focus into its curriculum.

In the first three years, the teaching will be mainly at the Missionvale Campus, with some community-based teaching as well. In the last three years, students will be taught by clinicians working in the hospitals, health centres and clinics in Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as further afield in district hospitals in towns such as Humansdorp, Graaf Reinet and Grahamstown.

How is the curriculum structured?

The first intake will admit 50 students, but this figure will increase annually over the first three years and reviewed thereafter.

In each year, all modules need to be passed in order to be able to progress to the next year. In the first year, there are three modules that run throughout the whole year. They are Academic Literacy and Reasoning, Basic Medical Science, and Theory & Practice of Medicine.

Yes. A first-year module called Academic Literacy and Reasoning will help provide skills so that students can master the academic content of their work. In addition, an academic advisor will be made available to students so that financial, psychological or academic needs can be addressed, or channelled appropriately.