Matie Voices

Dr Rust Theron

Alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

“It’s easy to sit back and criticise, but I choose rather to be part of the solution.”

As a medical student at Stellenbosch University (SU), one of Dr Rust Theron’s lecturers served as his inspiration – so much so that he has now started a project to assist aspiring doctors with their training at SU. It’s time to give back, he believes.

Rust’s diary is full and his time limited – but this Matie alumnus and specialist in internal medicine at Durbanville Mediclinic still finds the time to make a positive difference and do his bit to help train new doctors.

Rust was instrumental in establishing a ground-breaking collaboration between private hospital group Mediclinic and SU’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).

This project creates the opportunity for medical students from SU to complete a part of their undergraduate training at accredited Mediclinic hospitals. During the pilot project, medical students in their fourth and fifth year of study underwent their four-week rotations in internal medicine at the hospital and received clinical training from doctors in private practice.

“I came across statistics that indicated that our country was facing a severe shortage of doctors. Medical schools can increase their student intake, but the problem is with the clinical rotations. For instance, there simply aren’t enough consultants to take these students on hospital rounds,” says Rust.

Often, this means that up to 22 students accompany a single consultant. As Mediclinic had already started training nurses in the private sector, he first approached the hospital group and then SU’s medical faculty with the idea of offering undergraduate students clinical rotations in the private sector.

Based on the success of the pilot, FMHS and Mediclinic have since decided to expand the programme, including another three hospitals in the Mediclinic group, namely Mediclinic Cape Gate, Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt and Mediclinic Panorama.

“South Africa is heading for a crisis in terms of the number of doctors graduating in relation to the size of our population. It’s easy to sit back and criticise, but I choose rather to be part of the solution. I also believe that every doctor in our country has a duty to help where they can to alleviate this problem,” says Rust.

- By Ilse Arendse -