Every year I get a substantial amount of queries from aspiring medical students regarding the school I attend. It is a prestigious university with some interesting factors at play, so it is wise for Matrics (high school seniors) to investigate their potential choices. They will be spending six years there, after all.
Seeing as the pool of high schoolers that know me personally is drying up I decided to post some of my usual answers here. A similar post will follow soon regarding studying medicine in general, but I don’t have that bit figured out myself just quite yet.
Here thus follows a short guide to studying medicine at Stellenbosch:
The thing that is important to know about Stellenbosch Medical School is that the Health Sciences Faculty is located next to Tygerberg Hospital. When I was a wide-eyed and bushy tailed first year from 1000km away, I left home with big dreams of studying in the romantic historical town of Stellenbosch…
Only to find out that I would study 40 minutes away, not quite as beautiful. This has posed a problem to me on several occasions. My happiness is directly related to the aesthetics of a place. It has, however, taught me to enjoy the little gems of beauty: campus at sunset, campus after rain, campus during the springtime…
Another thing that causes concern in prospective students is the language policy. The medical course follows the “T-option”, which means that English and Afrikaans should be used in equal amounts during classes. Lecturers that cannot speak English must use Afrikaans slideshows and vice versa. Furthermore notes are to be available in both languages.
Needless to say this attracts many Afrikaans-speaking students, but causes some concern for students speaking other languages. I have, however, met many of those who chose Tygerberg for precisely that reason. There is nothing as difficult as attempting to extract a history from someone that does not understand your language. The ability to speak more than two local languages is even more valuable, but two is a good start.
The reason I consider our course to be superior? Stellenbosch FHS offers excellent practical training. We start early with clinical work and have access to a top-of-the-range simulated clinical skills laboratory. When on clinical rotations, students are treated as though they were qualified doctors apart from need their actions co-signed and quality-checked. I compare this to universities where practical work starts only in the fourth year, or where students have to get written consent for something as simple as drawing venous blood.
The final eighteen months of training at Tygerberg is called your student internship and is solely practical with no theoretical blocks. It is expected of SIs to conduct themselves as though they were already Interns – again very beneficial to practical training.
These are the tree most important things prospective students, in my mind, should know in order to make a good, informed choice. Be sure to ask if you have any other questions that need answering.