Renewed MBChB curriculum will address the needs of South Africans

Dr Liezl Smit, Prof Julia Blitz and Ms Mariette Volschenk are part of the curriculum renewal team.
Staff and students at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) eagerly engaged with the proposed design of the renewed MBChB curriculum at a recent expo held at the Tygerberg campus. 
 
“We want to have a socially accountable MBChB curriculum tailored to the needs of South Africans,” Prof Hennie Botha, a member of the curriculum renewal team said at an interactive session at the expo. He explained that the motive for the renewal process was to design a curriculum that specifically addresses the disease burden and realities of the people of South Africa. 
 
“The renewed MBChB curriculum will include much of the same content as the current curriculum, but we will be using modern new ways of teaching and learning that will be student-centred and utilize our teachers in the best possible way,” said Botha, who also heads the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the FMHS. 
 
The proposed curriculum will bring exciting new changes to the way medicine is taught. Students will continuously be exposed to the primary healthcare environment from early on in the programme, and negotiations with the Provincial Department of Health are underway to expand the clinical teaching platform to include greater numbers of appropriate settings. 
 
Interprofessional learning will also be a strong focus of the renewed curriculum. The curriculum renewal team are exploring how students from different health professions can learn together – not only in the classroom, but even more importantly on the clinical platform. “We are looking for synergies between different programmes which will provide students with actual exposure to collaborative practice,” said Prof Julia Blitz, FMHS Vice Dean: Learning and Teaching, who is leading the MBChB renewal process. 
 
An important component of the proposed programme is the wellbeing of the health professional. “We want to equip the students with tools and skills to enable them to do self-care, and to develop resilience and robustness that can carry them through their medical careers,” said Dr Kerrin Begg, a Public Health Specialist, who leads the Being and Becoming in Healthcare module team. 
 
“We want to enable our students to be change agents for better health and be clinicians that have the ability to continue learning and to maintain the curiosity of clinicians working in an ever-changing environment,” Botha said.  
 
The renewal process for the FMHS’ MBChB programme started in 2017, and it is envisaged that the renewed curriculum will be rolled out in 2021 – subject to accreditation by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).  
 
Students who enrolled in the MBChB programme before 2021 will continue with the current curriculum for the duration of their studies and there will be an overlap of both the current and renewed MBChB programme from 2021 to 2025. 
Wilma Stassen