UKZN Students Attend Summit for Young Doctors
Three UKZN Medical students attended a healthcare summit for young doctors organised by Discovery. They were Mr Mondli Khumalo and Ms Mpho Molema, both in their final year of study, and Mr Stanley Sekhula, who is in his fourth year. Their attendance at the healthcare summit was held in Sandton recently and was sponsored by Discovery.
‘I called it a “weekend of bliss” way before I even knew what was going to happen and I have to say that my expectations were exceeded,’ said Molema.
‘Discovery invited the three of us to attend the Young Doctor Summit – Future Leaders in Health gathering - being considered a “leader” was both daunting and gratifying for me.
‘It was also humbling and inspiring to be given an opportunity to mingle and network with colleagues from all over the country who work hard to help improve South Africa’s health system. Many of the delegates were in our age group so it was easy for me to relate to them. I had fun yet learned so much.
‘The aim of the forum for young doctors was to create a platform for participants to share ideas, draw inspiration from one another and become empowered through different activities,’ said Molema.
Delegates attended a show at the South African Fashion Week and a formal dinner on the first day of the summit and the next day were involved in a programme containing a variety of activities that embraced the bio-psychosocial model of health and provided participants with tools and ideas on how to be healthy in every aspect of their lives.
‘We had healthy-cooking classes, a financial education session, as well as a talk on how exercise can be used as a healing tool and not as a preventative measure in health,’ said Molema. ‘We also got to exercise in the Discovery Technogym, had team building sessions and heard presentations from different innovators in healthcare.
‘What resonated with the three of us was a discussion on mental health which explored issues amongst doctors and the reluctance that we often still have to seek help in that area for a variety of reasons. We have a tendency of not wanting to show “weakness”. Highlighted was how our backgrounds still influence and somehow “haunt” us - even though we are educated and know better we still find it difficult to use that information to help ourselves or to seek help because of our different cultures and traditions, some of which do not embrace mental health matters. And another issue debated was the stigma that exists around mental health among doctors - how we don’t encourage each other to come out and seek help or ridicule those who are having problems,’ she said.
‘This issue resonated with us because young doctors and Medical students are constantly exposed to gruesome things - rape, trauma and death - and have little time to spend with friends and family or to just be in healthy and uplifting environments which is enough to depress anyone. I feel it is up to us to continue the conversation, to raise awareness and to just be kind to one another.’
Molema said the summit was an eye-opener for her on many issues. ‘Being around all those vibrant intelligent people gave me the courage to continue fighting for what’s right and - as a representative of the Cuban-Collaboration students - it gave me a platform to make our colleagues understand us (collaboration students) and our struggles better and to encourage unity and peace amongst local and foreign trained Medical students.
‘It was indeed a weekend of bliss and all thanks to Discovery for sponsoring us to attend the forum. We are also truly thankful to our Dean, Professor Ncoza Dlova; for her transparency, fairness and her eagerness to nurture and shape young students into being great leaders. She is patient and always available even though we are a bit challenging to work with. We cannot thank her and Discovery enough and we hope that she will continue to engage with us and guide us in this difficult profession and we will work with her to make sure that all the students are empowered and know of the opportunities she creates.’
Many young doctors and Medical students are under tremendous pressure and suffering psychologically. Discovery has identified this and is working tirelessly to provide support. Initiatives include a 24-hour free telephonic help line (0800 323 323) offered in conjunction with SADAG and the website www.kineticSA.org where aspiring medical students can find useful information.
Words: Mpho Molema