The School of Public Health is responsible for the Community Doctor theme in the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP) 1 and 2. This theme focuses on communities (the public) rather than individuals and on the factors that influence the health of populations. The GEMP programme exposes students to rural and urban locations in Gauteng and Mpumalanga where they learn about the socio-economic determinants of health and have first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities for delivering appropriate health care services.
In GEMP 1 and 2, students are exposed to the basic building blocks of public health through lectures, learning topics and theme sessions. These cover epidemiology and biostatistics, the control of communicable and non-communicable diseases (including occupational and environmental medicine), social and behaviour change (and health promotion) and health systems and policy.
Mercy Hlungwani, Senior Lecturer, coordinates a service learning programme which sees groups of students assigned to specific sites which they visit 12 times over two years. The emphasis is on problem-based service learning opportunities which benefit students, communities and service partners.
Students engage with individuals experiencing health problems at community level, align provider perceptions of service needs with the needs of the community, and are equipped with the skills and confidence necessary to provide services and outreach. Key learning outcomes include integrating action and reflection, where students demonstrate knowledge and practice of the critical skills of communication, team work, delegation, conflict resolution and crisis management. The School has relationships with the City of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni Primary Health Care service divisions through the service-learning programme which includes the five-day training of PHC staff to build support for service learning and health promotion.
A variety of health promotion projects are undertaken by students and include sexuality education and awareness on teenage pregnancy in schools, measles campaigns, waste management, hand washing campaigns in crèches and schools, VCT/HIV/AIDS awareness and education campaigns, school mental health projects, health education for informal traders, and establishing youth friendly services in clinics.
GEMP 3 - Public Health Block
The aim of this public health block is to lay a foundation for every medical graduate, within their future field of practice, to draw on core public health skills and principles to identify and address the health problems of individuals, communities and populations. This two week block exposes students to some of the public health problems facing South Africa and the challenges in addressing them.
In GEMP 3, students spend ten days at the Wits Rural Facility in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. Here they are exposed to different health care providers (e.g. traditional healers, community based organisations) and public health programmes, such as the malaria programme. The block focuses on district health systems, primary health care and community-based interventions.
This service based learning helps the students to integrate public health medicine teaching into practice and for many students is their first exposure to rural areas and primary health care. We believe that this is good preparation for internship and community service years that follow graduation. Click here to download the information booklet and log book.
In GEMP 4, the School participates in the Integrated Primary Care Block, an innovative six week rotation for final year medical students in the GEMP.
The focus is on practical implementation of students’ knowledge and skills gained through the preceding years of study, in the primary care context. Students work in clinics, health centres and district hospitals in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West province.
A team coordinated by the Rural Health Unit has developed and planned this block, and includes specialists from Public Health Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Psychiatry. Elements related to each of these disciplines have been integrated into a range of tasks which students are required to complete. All disciplines are involved in the assessment.
Students are required to achieve a range of objectives, which relate to clinical care, a bio-psychosocial approach, health promotion and disease prevention, the health care team, and the health care system. Specific tasks related to public health include: