Newly-qualified doctors doing their internship at Groote Schuur Hospital have an opportunity to rotate through Neurosurgery for 6 weeks as part of the four month Surgery attachment. Interns take responsibility for the day-to-day management of patients, but also have opportunities to get to theatre and acquire first-hand experience of neurosurgery. This is a great opportunity for anyone considering a career in Neurosurgery.
Following completion of two years internship and one year community service, aspiring trainees have an opportunity to work for one year as a Medical Officer in Neurosurgery. Typically, applicants for this post have already passed the Primary exam, but this is not a requirement. The Medical Officer functions as a junior registrar, taking call under supervision but rotating through the various firms. Three months will be spent in the Neurosurgical ICU (D13), which is excellent preparation for the Intermediate exam.
This is the substantive training post and competition is tough as our Division only has five funded registrar posts. Our training program encompasses all aspects of modern neurosurgery, exposing registrars to the full spectrum of subspecialties. During their training, registrars have numerous opportunities to pursue research and are equipped with skills for lifelong enquiry. In this way, we strive to produce neurosurgeons who have superb clinical and operative skills coupled with the intellectual rigour to cope with a career in the fast-paced and rapidly evolving field of clinical neuroscience.
Contracts are awarded for four years, but consideration is being given to increasing this to five years nationally. All registrars at UCT are expected to complete the exams set by the College of Neurosurgeons of South Africa, as well as complete a research dissertation for the degree MMed (Neurosurgery). Registrars rotate through the three Groote Schurr Hospital firms (D13 ICU and HCU and RCWMCH). Special three-month rotations for research or clinical neuroscience may be arranged.
Following completion of four years of training, funding may be available to enable a registrar to stay on for an additional year of subspecialty training, assuming the role of Chief Registrar.
Although only South African citizens and permanent residents may be appointed to funded registrar posts, we have a number of trainees from other African countries funded independently. The Division of Neurosurgery is committed to the University’s vision to internationalise UCT via an Afropolitan niche and we have paid particular attention to the development of neurosurgery across our continent.
Our unit takes on at least three ‘supernumerary’ registrars who have committed to returning home to develop neurosurgery in their own countries. A number of alumni have already returned home to provide much-needed services to their countries, and have been able to publish their experience in leading journals.
African Paediatric Neurosurgery Course
We run an annual postgraduate African Paediatric Neurosurgery Course (see course outine from previous course), funded by the International Society for Pediatric neurosurgery, the European Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery and the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa.
One of our long-term goals is to help build sufficient expertise in East Africa so that truly world-class training centres can be established in that part of our continent.
One of our graduates, Dr Peter Ssenyonga, recently returned to Uganda where he is one of two fellowship-certified neurosurgeons offering Neurosurgical care in Uganda. Working with fellow Groote Schuur Hospital alumnus Dr John Mugamba at CURE Hospital, he will be treating patients from Sudan, Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia and as far afield as Mauritius. Uganda itself has a population of 31 million, of which 15 million are children under the age of 15 years. Our most recent appointee Dr Emmanuel Wegoye will spend the next five years training in our department before also returning to CCHU.
Dr Kachinga Sichizya returned to Zambia 5 years ago as the first fully-trained neurosurgeon in that country and we are currently exploring opportunities to build further capacity in Zambia.
Dr Edwin Mogere will be returning to the Aga Kahn University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015. In view of Dr Mogere’s success, we have taken on an additional three registrars from Kenya in Dr Dan Ochieng, Dr Naomi Ochieng and Dr Aamir Qureshi.
Dr Mohamed Ben-Husein will complete his training in 2016 and take his skills back home to Libya and we are privileged to be able to contribute to the development of specialist services in this newly liberated country.
We are currently developing training links with colleagues at leading centres in Nigeria.
Senior members of the Division have been invited to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt to teach and examine. Our expanding role in Africa was underscored by the election of Professor Fieggen as inaugural President of the Continental Association of African Neurosurgical Societies (CAANS).