Over 3 600 applications for Nelson Mandela University's new medical school - which only has 50 spaces

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Entrance to Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
Entrance to Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
PHOTO: Fani Mahuntsi/Gallo Images
  • Nelson Mandela University has received over 3 600 online applications for its new medical programme, which only has space for 50.
  • Applications opened on 6 January and will close on 5 February, with classes starting mid-March.
  • News of the university opening the country's 10th medical school has been "overwhelmingly positively received".

Nelson Mandela University's new medical school has received over 3 600 online applications from prospective students, while the programme only has space for 50.

Applications opened on 6 January and will close on 5 February, with classes starting when the new academic year begins in mid-March.

On Monday, the university said news of starting a medical programme this year had been "overwhelmingly positively received".

This will be the country's 10th medical school and it will be based at the university's Missionvale campus.

It will be the second medical school in the Eastern Cape, after Walter Sisulu University's flagship medicine programme.

The university will have a tough job to select 50 top students for the initial cohort of the six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree programme.

'In the service of society'

"A stringent selection process is in place to ensure that the right qualifying students are chosen to embrace the innovative community-based programme," said acting faculty health sciences dean, Professor Dalena van Rooyen.

The six-year curriculum compromises three pre-clinical and three clinical training-focused years.

The pre-clinical years will be based at the Missionvale campus.

The new medical programme, which was given the go-ahead in December, was one of 11 health disciplines within the faculty of health sciences, using an innovative inter-professional education and collaborative practice model for holistic patient care, the university said in a statement.

"We can't wait to see our students – not just our future medical practitioners, but our other health students too – all working in our communities in the service to society. Being in the service of society is our university's mandate," said Van Rooyen.

She added:

Participation in our medical programme will teach the lesson that a great medical practitioner is dedicated to serving others. We want to nurture the human side of medicine.

The application process to establish a medical school in Nelson Mandela Bay started eight years ago, but the idea had been mooted as far back as 1946, according to Van Rooyen.

Addressing 'health disparities'

She said the university had worked with all stakeholders, including the Eastern Cape and national health departments, other medical schools, including Walter Sisulu University, the metro, local medical fraternity and host communities, to formulate a curriculum set to meet real South African health care needs.

She said: 

While our mission as a faculty is on addressing the health disparities experienced by underserved communities by using a preventative and promotive primary health care model, our students will have the adaptive expertise to work anywhere in the world as we will be using the latest technologically advanced teaching equipment.

Van Rooyen added all health sciences students would have access to virtual dissection tables, which mimic the human body, cadavers and human tissue.

She said they would also work with virtual families based on real and relevant patient scenarios and have the opportunity to share their area of expertise, be it, for example, medicine, nursing science, emergency medical care, psychology, dietetics or pharmacy, on how to treat various illnesses holistically as an interprofessional team.

"This collaborative practice will enable a better understanding and respect for each other's discipline, but ultimately offer better, holistic patient care."

Van Rooyen added the same collaborative effort was at play with the national and provincial health departments, professional bodies, Walter Sisulu and other universities producing health professionals.

"Everyone is really positive about this medical school. The feedback has been so good and so welcome, given the enormous challenges that health professionals and indeed health systems are facing globally right now."

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