Newly qualified doctors doing their Internship at Groote Schuur Hospital have an opportunity to rotate through Neurosurgery for 6 weeks as part of the 4 month Surgery attachment. Interns take responsibility for the day-to-day management of patients in Ward F7, 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 2 years Internship and 1 year Community Service, aspiring trainees have an opportunity to work for one year as a Medical Officer in Neurosurgery. Typically, applicants for the MO post have already passed the Primary exam, but this is not a requirement. The MO functions as a junior registrar, taking call under supervision but rotating through the various firms. 3 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 5 funded registrar posts. Contracts are awarded for 4 years, but consideration is being given to increasing this to 5 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 GSH firms, D13 ICU and HCU and RCWMCH. Special 3 month rotations for research or clinical neuroscience may be arranged.
Following completion of 4 years 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 not only to their countries, and have been able to publish their experience in leading journals.
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. Our most recent graduate, Dr Peter Ssenyonga, has recently returned to Uganda where he is one of two fellowship-certified neurosurgeons offering Neurosurgical care in Uganda. Working with fellow GSH 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).
We recently established the African Paediatric Neurosurgery Course****, an annual postgraduate course funded by the International Society for Pediatric neurosurgery, the European Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery and the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa.