Second group of clinical associates graduates from the University of Pretoria

Posted on December 12, 2013

It is no secret that the health services in South Africa are struggling to cope with the enormous number of patients they have to treat and are in dire need of more professional healthcare workers. The deployment of these clinical associates, mostly to the rural areas, will undoubtedly ease the burden faced by health care workers and improve their service to the public.

The training of the clinical associates was coordinated by the Department of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of Pretoria, which is also responsible for the training of medical doctors and specialists. Students who have completed the BCMP degree will register as clinical associates with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Clinical associates are a new category of health care workers who will work alongside doctors and will be supervised by trained doctors.

A clinical associate is a competent, professional member of the health care team with the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to function effectively in the district health system in South Africa. Clinical associates will add a unique dimension to the quest to make quality health care available to all South Africans, in line with the national health plan.

Students for the three-year BCMP programme were recruited from disadvantaged rural areas in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. They had to meet the requirements set by their respective provinces in order to qualify for funding of their studies. Their study fees were paid in full as soon as they embarked on the programme. The BCMP students from the University of Pretoria received extensive training in various district hospitals in Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng.

The significance of this group of graduates is that they will be filling the gap that arose owing to the shortage of doctors in district hospitals. The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) will also utilise clinical associates to strengthen their medical teams.


A group of 2013 newly qualified Clinical Assciates with their course co-ordinators and lecturers

 A facilitator of the BCMP promme, Dr Frank Peters (middle) is flanked by new graduates Kaylen Sanders and Mashea Matlokotsi 

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