Perceptions of graduates from Africa's first emergency medicine training program at the University of Cape Town/Stellenbosch University

CJEM. 2012 Mar;14(2):97-105. doi: 10.2310/8000.2012.110639.


Objective: Africa's first postgraduate training program in emergency medicine (EM) was established at the University of Cape Town/Stellenbosch University (UCT/SUN) in 2004. This study of the UCT/SUN EM program investigated the backgrounds, perceptions, and experiences of its graduates.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study. The study population was the 30 graduates from the first four classes in the UCT/SUN EM program (2007-2010). We employed a scripted interview with a combination of closed and open-ended questions. Data were analyzed using the thematic method of qualitative analysis.

Results: Twenty-seven (90%) graduates were interviewed. Initial career goals were primarily (78%) to practice EM in a nonacademic clinical capacity. At the time of the interview, 52% held academic positions, 15% had nonacademic clinical positions, and 33% had temporary positions and were looking for other posts. The three most commonly cited strengths of their program were diversity of clinical rotations (85%), autonomy and procedural experience (63%), and importance of being pioneers within Africa (52%). The three most commonly cited weaknesses were lack of bedside teaching in the ED (96%), lack of career options after graduation (74%), and lack of preparation for academic careers (70%).

Conclusions: The lessons identified from structured interviews with graduates from Africa's first EM training include the importance of strong clinical training, difficulty of ensuring bedside teaching in a new program, the necessity of ensuring postgraduation positions, and the need for academic training. These findings may be useful for other developing countries looking to start EM training programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Africa
  • Universities*