PhD Explores Fitness for Purpose of South African Anaesthesiologists
Dr Nicola Ann Kalafatis obtained a PhD in Anesthesiology for her thesis on Fitness for Purpose of South African Anaesthesiologists.
The study aimed to establish whether South African anaesthesiologists are able to function as specialists after graduation. The findings revealed that graduates’ assessment of their fitness for purpose did not align with those of their seniors. Despite being licenced to practice, some exited their training programme without the necessary competencies to perform as specialists. This problem is not unique to South Africa.
Kalafatis said her final year of study coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, creating new emotional and physical stressors. However, the support she received at home as well as her place of work (COVID ICU at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital) enabled her to persevere.
‘My head of unit, Dr Santosh Pershad was particularly supportive and allowed a work schedule that afforded me a work-life balance. I am also greatly indebted to my supervisors, Professors TE Sommerville and PD Gopalan for their unfailing support and guidance not only during the difficult time of the pandemic, but throughout the research period. They ensured that I remained focused and challenged me and my thinking continuously. I am also grateful to the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) who awarded me a research grant.’
Kalafatis is an Anaesthesiologist and Intensivist at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and an honorary lecturer in UKZN’s Discipline of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care. She is a member of the College of Anaesthetists of South Africa Committee that is currently reviewing the anaesthesiology curriculum which enables her to share the knowledge she has gained from her research. She hopes that future graduates will benefit from the findings and that they will assist in training specialists who are fit for purpose.
Married to Mike and a step-mother to Caraidh, Caitlin and Vincent, Kalafatis also has three god-children. ‘They all give me overwhelming joy! My hobbies are gardening and baking, and I dream of one day having my own nursery with a tea garden. I am drawn to nature and the stillness and calm it provides is a respite from the busyness of my life.’
Words: Lihle Sosibo