Witsies work alongside healthcare professionals who treat patients free of charge
CORRECTION: This article was initially headlined “Wits med students facing disciplinary action”, lending the impression that the group of students involved are those registered for the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree or MBBCh. The students referred to are those registered for the BCMP or the Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice. Wits Vuvuzela regrets the error which has been corrected below.
A group of BCMP (Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice) students are facing disciplinary action after it was discovered that they skipped out on hours during their hospital rotations.
Some Wits clinical medical practice students are facing disciplinary action, including being forced to deregister for their third year studies, as they falsified their practices requirements in second year.
A group of 24 students, who do not want to be named, are undergoing disciplinary hearings after it was discovered they had lied about meeting the requirements during their second-year clinical practice course. Evidence showed they had skipped out on hours that they were meant to serve at designated hospitals in Gauteng.
Thus far, two students have been allowed to continue to third year, three have been excluded and majority of the students have been told that they need to repeat second year.
According to those who have not been allowed to continue third year, the outcomes of the hearings are unfair because the transgressions are similar.
Unfair treatment and bad conditions
In addition the students feel that the harsh implications of their actions far outweigh the unfair treatment they received at both the hospitals and at the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Between struggling with challenging hospital conditions, lack of facilities, CommCare complications, dismissive doctors and lack of tutors, students claim that they were abandoned in their difficulties.
“The conditions that we worked under, was not what we were promised,” said one of the students.
Leaked e-mails between faculty staff and students, reveal they tried since last year to make their grievances heard but according to them these were ignored. They felt as though no efforts were made to help them better understand the course because they were not assigned a tutor.
“From day one, we’ve complained and nobody has done anything about it,” said another student. “We were left at the hospitals to fend for ourselves.”
The situation took a turn for the worse when two students confessed to their fraudulent behaviour and presented information to the faculty that implicated other students. This evidence would later turn out to be the primary evidence against the BCMP 24.
The dean and staff members of the faculty declined to give comment to Wits Vuvuzela, citing the ongoing hearings.
Meeting with the vice chancellor
Wits Vuvuzela observed a meeting between the students and Vice Chancellor Adam Habib. The vice chancellor told the students he could not interfere with the legal processes of the Wits students to allow them to finish third year.
“Even if I wanted to intervene, I can’t because our disciplinary process is an independent process and the vice chancellor has no authority to over-ride,” said Habib.
He added that it would be illegal to pass the students even if they had met most of the requirements to pass second year.
Students say they had passed the second year and the test they wrote about the practical experience they were meant to receive at the hospitals and by allowing them to register, they were misled to believe that they wouldn’t be taken action against.
In response to their outcry that the penalty was too harsh, Habib told the students that they had not done the necessary clinical practice to qualify for third-year. He added that their initial claim to have done clinical practice was “a fraudulent transaction”.
Habib also said he would be investigating the conditions the students had to undergo whilst they were doing their rotations and make a full enquiry into it, independent of the investigation.
The BCMP course requires students to do practical rotations at specific hospitals in Gauteng and North West provinces. Only students from Gauteng hospitals have been implicated in transgressions.