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Department of Family Medicine

Graduation of the first group Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (BCMP) students

By Health Science / Gesondheidswetenskap

Posted on 07 December 2011

On the 8th of December 2011, the first group of Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (BCMP) students from the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Health Sciences will be having their Declaration Ceremony.

The 44 graduates will be pledging their commitment to serve our nation’s health care needs and to practice at the highest professional standards of care. From next year they will work in various health districts in the country, mostly in rural areas in the provinces they came from, where their services are very much needed. The military graduates will be going back to the military and will form part of teams that are deployed on peacekeeping missions.

The training is coordinated by the Department of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine, which is also responsible for the training of medical doctors and specialists. The students who have completed the BCMP degree successfully will register as clinical associates with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Clinical associates are a new category of health care workers who will work alongside doctors and will be supervised by them.

A clinical associate is a competent, professional member of the health care team with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to function effectively in the district health system in South Africa. Clinical associates will add a unique dimension to the capacity to make quality health care available to all South Africans, in line with the national health plan.

For the BCMP three-year programme, the students were recruited from disadvantaged rural areas from Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The students had to meet the provincial requirements for full funding, and their study fees were paid in full as soon as they commenced the programme. The BCMP students from the University of Pretoria have received extensive training in:
  • Mpumalanga hospitals: Themba, Barberton, Rob Ferreira, Middelburg, Tonga, Tintswalo, Ermelo, Witbank and Piet Retief.
  • Free State hospitals: Botshabelo District, 3 Military and Pelonomi.
  • Gauteng hospitals: Thembisa, Kalafong, Tshwane District, Mamelodi, 1 Military and Pretoria West.

The significance of this graduate class is that the clinical associates will be filling the gap that has been caused by the shortage of doctors in district hospitals. These graduates will therefore render a service to district hospitals so that other clinicians are free to focus on the implementation of the re-engineering of primary health care through service provision in primary health care clinics and health centres. As the first group to graduate with a Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice, they will not only be walking away with a qualification and the highest standard of hands-on clinical training, they will also be the pioneers in the field who will set the standard for future clinicians.

The South Africa Military Health Service (SAMHS) will also benefit by using clinical associates to help strengthen their medical teams.

The University of Pretoria is proud to have been a pioneer in the training of clinical associates in South Africa in a programme that meets international best practice. The University is also appreciative of the support it has received from the national and provincial health departments and from SAMHS, who also seconded some instructors to assist with the training. We are also especially appreciative of the exemplary contribution made by a wide range of staff at the University and the staff of the hospitals where the clinical associates did their practical training.

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