SA’s youngest doctor

2014-01-06 00:00

HE posted a picture of his official stamp that simply said “Dr Kubheka” on Facebook to prove that he was not dreaming.

“First day seeing patients today, Yes I love medicine, now I can feel it, I’m Dr S Kubheka,” read the post.

Sandile Kubheka, at just 20 years of age, is the youngest doctor currently in South Africa. He matriculated at age 15, after being allowed to skip grades due to his agile mind.

“Ever since I received my marks last year … it has all been kind of a dream that I thought someone would come by and wake me up and tell me that you are dreaming,” said Kubheka.

The young man from Masondeza village near Newcastle finished his studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine last year. He has now started his internship at various government hospitals in the Midlands, starting with Grey’s Hospital.

He will be rotating between the various hospitals for the next two years and after that, he will return to his hometown of Newcastle, where he will serve his community. In future, he hopes to specialise in internal medicine.

Speaking to The Witness following his first days at Northdale Hospital, he said he was living his dream.

“I had two choices when I finished high school, medicine or computer engineering. I had applied to universities to study either of them, I asked my teachers in high school for their advice and they said I should study medicine because I liked to help people.”

Of the daunting task of attending to patients, he said during his years of studying, he had visited many patients suffering from different ailments. “I have been doing this [seeing patients] before, so it was not very daunting.”

And whether patients worried about his age, he said, “Nobody has asked me how old I am; even when I was still studying [in medical school] only other students knew that I was 15, the lecturers did not know.”

He urged matriculants not to give up on life without a fight.

Kubheka, in talking about his life, understates his achievement and the hard work that went into it. He shied away from any insinuation that he is intelligent or a prodigy and wouldn’t even reveal his primary school marks.

But that a teacher found him ready to complete two grades in one year in primary school, something that allowed him to finish high school at 15, tells most of the story.

Sam Mkhwanazi, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, said Kubheka should serve as a role model to his peers as he has shown that with dedication and hard work, nothing is impossible.

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