The faculty for health science embraces the use of AI in teaching  

Wits looks at the father of medicine, Hippocrates, to help it navigate the use of artificial intelligence in the health sector.  

The Centre for Health Science Education hosted a focus day on July 19, at the Parktown Education campus which looked at the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health care and health science training.  

The day created a space for discussion and participation around the theme of the day “From Hippocrates to AI.” Hippocrates was the father of medicine, who described many diseases and their treatment in a scientific manner. 

AI has significantly advanced in medicine; and it has improved medical image recognition better than humans when it comes to things such as X-rays. 

Shirra Moch, the organizer of the event said the purpose of the day was to make the academic community feel at ease with AI being incorporated in education.” Our aim with this session was to demystify for lecturers the use of AI in health science education and give them a hands-on experience to fight the fear of not knowing what it involves.” 

They looked at three topics:  ‘Induction to AI in health science’ which looked at the use of AI in the health science education; ‘Curating resources to encourage student learning’ this focused on how students can incorporate AI in their learning to enhance critical thinking and ‘Academic integrity and the role of AI in authentic assessment’, which examined how AI chatbot such as ChatGPT can be used in a way that students do not plagiarize, this was facilitated by Jannus Van AS the academic and blended learning coordinator. 

Richard Cooke gives shares his thoughts on the focus day and gives action points. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

Van As said, after reading on Instagram that lecturers put students’ assignments on ChatGPT and ask if the student wrote the paper or not. He decided to put his work that he had written onto the chatbot and asked it if he had written the paper and ChatGPT said yes. He explained that he realized that ChatGPT recognized his paper from the questions he asked. Van AS emphasized that it’s important to know the right way to prompt it so that students work is not discredited unfairly.  

Nabeela Sujee, coordinator of the simulation activities looked at the use of replicas in health science education. Simulation is a way in which they replicate a real-life environment; for example, a simulation lab is created to look like a hospital theatre.  

Sujee said, “These simulations are achieved through tech-enhanced mannequins that can breathe spontaneously, have heart, lung and abdominal sounds which makes the student not need feedback from the facilitator but get it directly from the mannequin.” 

She further explained that they cannot use these mannequins all the time, so sometimes they us CHATGPT, where they ask it to pretend to be a patient and the student asks it questions to arrive at a diagnosis. 

One of the attendees and the head of family medicine and primary care at Wits, Richard Cooke said incorporating AI in their teaching and learning is beneficial for students especially in the clinical space, where the use of ChatGPT helps with facilitating the class; and helps students work by themselves without needing a facilitator.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Shirra Moch, the organizer, takes action points from the attendees. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


Wits students tackle social inequality in healthcare through new society


Health sciences students launched a new society dedicated to creating awareness about inequalities in healthcare. Photo: Provided.

Wits health science students launched the Student Advocates for Health society (StAH) at the Parktown campus last night. The society reflects the awareness of these students of the  socio-economic factors affecting the quality of healthcare in South Africa.

The idea for the organisation came about when a group of students doing shifts at a local hospital were outraged by a poster indicating that some patients were denied HIV treatment.

“We saw the social inequality and did not know how to do anything about it.  We [health science students] don’t know what’s happening in the world, we don’t know what politics mean.  This organisation is to inform students about the realities of what is happening in hospitals,” said one of the founders, Ndumiso Mathebula, 4th year MBBCh.

The society plans to facilitate opportunities for students to work with organisations like Section27, Doctors Without Borders, the Wits Citizenship Community Outreach, the Wits Transformation Office and the Treatment Action Campaign . Students will learn different skills of advocacy, said Mathebula.

Empowered students

Neo Mkhaba, 4th year MBBCh and StAH media officer, said as advocates, health science students would be empowered to “identify problems and come up with solutions that are comprehensive and sustainable.”

“We need more people to step into the darkness, because someone has to turn on the light.”

Joseph Tewson, anatomy honours, said: “I get very excited when things happen on campus.  We are a very laid-back generation.  We need more of this on campus.  We need more people to step into the darkness, because someone has to turn on the light.”

Lesnè Pucjlowski, 3rd year MBBCh was keen on standing up for her patients, “I’m really just interested in standing up for my patients’ human rights.  Our patients are important and their needs are important and I am happy that StAH will give me the opportunity to be proactive.”

Cybil Mulundi, 4th year MBBCh, wants to implement what she learns at StAH in her future career: “I am here to learn how doctors can make patients more aware of their human rights and make sure they are not taken advantage of.”

Monique Losper, 4th year MBBCh, added: “I would like to find out how to create a better relationship between doctors and patients in our careers going forward. I am expecting StAH to help enhance awareness of rights and responsibilities so that patients can receive good healthcare.”

The organisers used the event to commemorate the youth of 1976, who died for what they believed in, said Mkhaba.  The same spirit of activism should be carried by this generation, but it should not be destructive, emphasised Mathebula.  In the past, people had to destroy to get their freedom, he told Wits Vuvuzela.