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How to Become a Doctor in South Africa

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Becoming a doctor is an excellent opportunity for scientifically-minded people to help other people. However, the field also has other options other than direct patient care. Jobs in medical research, pathology, and lecturing are all good career paths for doctors.

Medical students in South Africa are taught at one of eight medical schools and undertake at least four years of training combining theory, lectures, practical training exercises, and work placements. Consequently, students who apply for this profession have to be of high academic quality.

Undergraduate Study

Achieve the required NSC scores. You cannot and will not be considered for medical schools without at least Level 5 scores in mathematics, physical and life sciences, and English.

Pass a placement test. South African medical schools make prospective candidates complete an entrance exam to determine their ability and compare it to the training regimen offered by that university. A good score on this test will secure a candidate's place in medical school.

The University of Kwazulu-Natal requires candidates to complete four placement tests covering three subjects: an English test, a logical reasoning test, and two mathematics tests. The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (WITS) requires candidates to medical school to complete an English test and a math test.

Complete a "biographical questionnaire." This shows the admissions staff what abilities you have garnered through extracurricular activities and demonstrates you are suited to a career in medicine. More important, it asks you to define why you want to study medicine.

Complete a six-year program. WITS stipulates that undergraduate applicants complete a six-year course.

The University of Kwazulu-Natal provides extra specialization as part of its degree program, allowing medical students to graduate as neurologists, oncologists, or pediatricians to name but three.

Postgraduate Study

Complete a degree. A degree is required in a science- or mathematics-based subject for entry into a postgraduate degree program.

Get accepted into a Graduate Entry into Medicine Program (GEMP). The GEMP is offered by WITS university and allows graduates with a science-based degree to enter the field of medical study. This is undertaken on a four-year course and requires candidates to complete a secondary placement test in addition to the first placement test required by the university. GEMP candidates may also be required to attend an interview.

Complete the course. Once you're done, you can register to be a doctor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and look for jobs as a practicing physician.


The University of Kwazulu-Natal states that extra consideration will be given to applicants who score a Level 7 in the required subjects.


Andrew Morris has been a published writer since 2005. He has worked for "The Courier" newspaper in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and The Three Wise Monkeys Webzine over the course of his writing career. He is a graduate of Newcastle University in the UK, and is an English teacher.

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