Qualifying as a health science student in a South African institution of higher learning does not always guarantee registration with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA). One is required to obtain endorsement from the department of health for registration with the HPCSA. The process is at times confusing for students and as such opportunities to bridge the gap of information is welcomed. The information session had two aims; to explain and clarify the process of registration and to explore possible ways to fast track this process.
The information session was held on the 19th July 2014 at The University of Johannesburg (UJ), Kingsway Campus (APK) at an auditorium located on Level 6 of the APK library. The meeting was attended by 53 students (30 UJ, 17 Wits, 6 MEDUNSA) excluding student volunteers and Uplifted Advocacy Representatives. Invited guests arrived as a delegation from the HPCSA represented by; Ms Kgomotso Nkoane (Acting Senior Manager of Registrations) and Ms Charmaine and the Department of Health’s Foreign Workforce Management Program (FWMP) represented by; Mr Hennie Groenewald (Director of Workforce Management), Ms Wonder Mathlahlane and Ms Motsei Mathibedi. The delegation settled down as the students began to register at the entrance. The Programme director, an Uplifted Advocacy representative Miss Audrey Katsidzira opened the meeting by welcoming the attendees and giving a brief context of the gathering.
An extensive presentation by Mr Groenewald followed; this clearly addressed the following matters: Foreign Workforce Policy, Immigration matters, Community Service and Medical Internship. Ms Nkoane then gave a comprehensive and concise presentation covering the following: Requirements for registration of a foreign national in South Africa, maintenance of registration in different categories, continuing professional development and internship training in South Africa.
There was some time allocated to the questions that the students had for the presenters. Some of the key questions asked were related to whether there was a difference in the appointment criteria for South African and non-South African students, What the length of the application process was, and if a collective organising on the part of the students would be welcomed by the FWMP. The delegation responded well to the questions emphasising that all applicants were treated the same with preference always being given to South Africans. International students were encouraged to apply at least three months before their student visa’s expired since the length of the process varied from applicant to applicant. Finally, collective organising on the part of the students was accepted however, the DoH emphasised that applications are assessed on an individual basis.
The programme director presented Uplifted Advocacy Head Miss Itumeleng Mafatshe who gave a two-fold address to the attendants. The input firstly presented Uplifted Life Advocacy and its umbrella body Uplifted Life to the audience, the presentation emphasised the pursuit for knowledge, responsibility and initiative as central tenets of the organisation. The second part of the presentation proposed the formation of the International Health Science Students Association in South Africa (IHSSA) which would continue the dialogue between the students and other stakeholders where necessary. The proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by all international students represented at the meeting.
All in all the session was very informative and much appreciated by all, particularly the students present. A need for another such event was expressed and will be facilitated by Uplifted Advocacy with the IHSSA.