The union’s Occupational Guild for Medical Practitioners responded to a proposal by the Department of Health that the internship period for prospective doctors be shortened.
The Guild says the proposal will “not only contribute to the alleviation of the pressure on the institutions responsible for this training but will also address the shortage of already accredited doctors.
Morné Malan, Senior Researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, says currently medical students are expected to complete a two-year internship, as well as a compulsory community service year, known in South Africa as a “Zuma Year”.
“Unfortunately, these internships increasingly acquired the characteristics of obstacles for the profession rather than to create opportunities for the expansion of knowledge and the necessary preparation for the student’s career. “We see too often that these programmes are known for the poor management, limited leadership, inhuman working environments, and enormous workloads.”
The Occupational Guild emphasises that although this step is in the right direction, the accreditation of private institutions to offer these internships is still the most advantageous option. “The primary issue is not the time that is taken from a prospective medical practitioner’s career, but rather the fact that this time is wasted. The quality and management of medical doctor’s practical training are sometimes horrific and this while training in the private sector is a significant need for both student and the industry, but not available,” Malan concluded.