Enhancing Teaching & Learning In Colleges
College of Health Science (CHS)

Compliance with the national and international health standards is key to the integrity of all teaching & learning programmes in the College of Health Sciences. Consequently, programmes are internally and externally reviewed periodically.

This provides constant opportunities to develop and implement improvement plans to maintain full accreditation status from the Council of Higher Education (CHE) and individual discipline professional regulatory councils. Obtaining the full accreditation of any Health Science programme is an assurance to the public that our graduates are competent and safe health practitioners who are ‘fit for purpose and academic staff are knowledgeable in both teaching & learning scholarship and research.

This report aims to highlight how CHS academic staff have embraced the responsibility of teaching & learning and their accountability towards their specific professions, the University and the public.

Teaching & Learning is one of the core functions of the University. As such, the success and sustainability of the teaching & learning project of any university requires consistent source of funding from both the University and national government. The Department of Higher Education and Training’s University Capacity Development Programme and University Capacity Grant 2018-2020 has come handy in supporting the development and implementation of many teaching & learning activities in 2018/2019. This report highlights some of these activities for the year 2018.

In 2018, the College of Health Science has, for the first time established CHS Excellence Teachers’ Awards in order to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the academic staff in improving the practice of teaching & learning in both the classroom and the clinical teaching platform. A snapshot of the awards and the inauguration of the CHS Teaching & Learning Symposium are shared in the report.

The success of the teaching & learning project of the College of Health Sciences relies on the support from individual academics in different disciplines and Schools. This support has been demonstrated in so many tangible and intangible ways, which are all greatly appreciated. Many people contributed to the writing of this report, but our greatest appreciation goes to Dr Varsha Bangalee and Dr Velisha Perumal from Pharmacy Discipline, School of Health Sciences as well as all Academic Leaders of Teaching & Learning.

UKZN’s Medical Degree Receives Full Accreditation for a Further Five Years

In 2018, The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) assessed UKZN’s undergraduate Medical degree and recommended full accreditation for the next five years. The Council listed numerous commendations showcasing not only its exceptional medical programme and core curriculum, but also its excellent structures, its Student Support programme, its Decentralised Clinical Training programme as well as its readiness to welcome the 90 Fidel Castro Cuban Collaboration Medical students who will join KZN at the end of July. The CHS was congratulated for its improved communication, its excellent student support services, its homestay project in rural KwaZulu-Natal which promotes social cohesion and its decentralised clinical training programme.

The Extension of the Decentralised Clinical Training Programme

The restructuring of South Africa’s health care system in the form of National Health Insurance (NHI) in the public and private healthcare sectors has paved the way for great change pertaining to service delivery and skills development. Recognising the need for improving Primary healthcare in achieving universal health coverage has been a driving force behind the re-engineering of the College of Health Science’s curriculum, to ensure UKZN produces healthcare professionals who are competent and prepared for the changing dynamics of healthcare. The Decentralised Clinical Training Programme (DCTP) has provided an opportunity for the College to develop competent graduates who will extend quality healthcare to all parts of the population, while also receiving experiential and contextual learning opportunities that prepare them to be health practitioners who are “fit for purpose”. The programme, which was first launched in 2016 in the College of Health Sciences, has seen considerable growth and improvement since its first inception. Below are the highlights for the period 2018-2019.

Medical Students Complete Six-weeks Stay in Rural Area (2018)

Final-year Medical students celebrated the completion of a rural “homestay project” with their “adoptive parents” at the College of Health Sciences. Known as a “rural block” and co-ordinated by the Discipline of Family Medicine, the project involved students spending six weeks at rural sites as part of a decentralised training programme. The project, which was piloted in 2016, has had promising results. Students were given the opportunity to live in the community for the six-week period of the project, which investigated the use of homestays and whether they were a viable option for alternative accommodation for health sciences students.

Physiotherapy Fully Reloaded on Decentralised Clinical Training Programme (2018)

The UKZN School of Health Sciences’ Physiotherapy Department began its second year of the Decentralised Clinical Training (DCT) Programme in 2018 by adding Manguzi to the list of rural hospitals attended by students. Other hospitals include; GJ Crookes, Madadeni, Newcastle, Murchison, Port Shepstone and Ngwelezane hospitals, in addition to the three urban hospitals which the discipline’s fourth years attend, namely Albert Luthuli, Prince Mshiyeni and Mahatma Gandhi hospitals. The students’ focus during their five-week block was on promoting Physiotherapy Back Week, identifying and promoting the physiotherapy profession in a rural and community setting and performing a community-based rehabilitation project, focusing on enabling people living with disabilities to optimise their quality of life.

Pharmacy Students Benefit from Clinical Training at DCT Hospitals (2019)

For the first time since the DCT programme’s inception, students from the discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences joined it in 2019. Students spent one week in five of the designated sites i.e. Port Shepstone, Empangeni, Madadeni, Pietermaritzburg and Stanger hospitals, in an effort to optimise experiential and contextual learning opportunities and service delivery, as well as to increase health care professionals in all areas of the health spectrum. The programme was well received by both hospital staff and students, who have displayed a keen interest in extending their stay for a longer period next year. Students were exposed to various aspects of hospital pharmacy, including ward round rotations, dispensing and multi-disciplinary collaboration. The programme assisted in increasing the clinical training capacity of students in line with the specific needs and disease burden in KwaZulu-Natal.

Incorporating Health Advocacy into Health Sciences Curriculum

Advocacy is an ethical duty of all healthcare workers, and building this competency is a requirement by all South African statutory bodies. It is also demanded by the reform of the current healthcare context. Understanding and agreeing with this priority need, the CHS has been making an earnest effort in their curriculum development to ensure it is introduced early and reinforced through different methodologies throughout the health sciences training. Students need to learn how to advocate for their patients – in and outside the clinical environment, so development of knowledge, skills and attitude around advocacy is essential for future health advocates. UKZN, in partnership with the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), has been working on the integration of advocacy in the curriculum.

To kickstart the process of incorporating health advocacy into the HS curriculum, the College of Health Sciences, in partnership with the RHAP, hosted a workshop titled: Incorporating Health Advocacy into the Health Sciences Curriculum. The Manager of Knowledge Management at RHAP, Ms Samantha Khan-Gillmore, defined advocacy as active promotion of a cause or principle involving action to change policies and practices, make a broader impact, reform institutions, alter power relations and change attitudes/behaviours. The workshop attracted both academics and professional personnel in the College to debate the importance of incorporating health advocacy in the Health Sciences curriculum and how incorporation could be achieved, as well as the challenges of teaching health advocacy. A capacity development project on incorporating health advocacy into the HS curriculum is underway, under the leadership of the Colleges’ office of Teaching & Learning.

Societal and stakeholder community engagement

Responsible Community Engagement (RCE) has been recognised as one of the goals of UKZN’s Strategic Plan, which aims to contribute to the prosperity and sustainability of KwaZulu-Natal and to nation-building. It aims to do this by connecting and committing the entire University family to the communities we serve, in a manner that adds value and earns the people’s respect. Below are some of the projects that staff and students have undertaken over the past year to create public awareness of health issues.

Fourth-year Nursing students; Ms Slindile Madela and Mr Bonginhlanhla Ngubane were interviewed by the Izwilomzansi community radio station about dementia in the context of human rights. The interview explored aspects of dementia, including the definition, causes, common signs and symptoms and the importance and role of family and community in the management of this disease.

Fourth-year Occupational Therapy students ran a health promotion project at the Mariannridge Clinic to help community members increase their knowledge of topics such as mental health, diabetes, a healthy lifestyle, development of children through play and the negative effects of drug and alcohol addiction. Further collaboration with the Mariannridge Clinic and the local high school tackled concerns about the high rate of teenage pregnancies in the district.

UKZN students, staff and members of the Department of Health commemorated World Hearing Day under the theme “Hear the future and prepare for it” by participating in a march to the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus, to raise awareness about hearing healthcare.

UKZN’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal teamed up with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) to promote awareness of cervical cancer and increase screening coverage. The University’s Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane launched the Umdlavuza Pap Smear Drive during the recent South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Congress in Durban, which had the theme “Advocating equitable access to women’s health”.

International Collaborations

International collaborations between universities have been shown to be very beneficial to all by improving several facets of performance. At a time when forming those links has perhaps never been simpler, the CHS has fostered several global partnerships with other institutions.

Duke Nursing Practice (DNP) Programme, Duke’s School of Nursing

Professor Petra Brysiewicz (SNPH) and Professor Katherine Pereira, the Director of Duke Nursing Practice (DNP) Programme, Duke’s School of Nursing, convened talks on a collaboration aimed at improving patient care and safety by using healthcare data. The main objective of this partnership is to develop a method for teaching clinical nurses and other healthcare professionals how to use data for research purposes. The two universities will work together to identify interdisciplinary approaches to improving patient care and safety by using healthcare data. A partnership to develop a curriculum that could lead in the training of nurses and other healthcare providers will be established and it is envisaged that it will benefit the community at large.

Denver University

The Department of Behavioural Medicine in the SNPH hosted a group of students from the University of Denver in the United States, led by Professor Neil Gowensmith, a clinical and forensic psychologist at Denver’s School of Professional Psychology. Their visit was part of a plan to establish formal collaboration between the two universities, with an initiative towards decolonisation of the curriculum at UKZN and possible development of a Forensic Psychology training programme at UKZN.

Erasmus School of Public Health Policy and Management in Holland

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, hosted a delegation from the Erasmus School of Public Health Policy and Management in Holland, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by the two institutions. During discussions, the delegations explored ways to develop initiatives in the areas of management development programmes, research collaborations and student exchange programmes.

National Institute of Social Studies in the Seychelles

The Dentistry Discipline hosted clinical skills training for 19 final-year Dental Therapy students from the Seychelles. The students were on a two-week stay at UKZN as part of a special collaboration between the universities, and to upgrade existing skills of health professionals.

Staff Capacity Development

The CHS recognises the imperative of continually developing its staff to align to the strategic goal of achieving excellence in teaching & learning. The aim has been to develop capacity and to support teachers in becoming critical, reflective academics with regard to their daily teaching practices, and to ultimately develop scholarship in teaching & learning across the College. The office of Teaching & Learning, in partnership with UTLO, ran the following workshops: A Series of Teaching Portfolio Assessments, Flipped Classroom and Blended Learning and Reconceptualising Health Professions Education.

Teaching & Learning Scholarships

  • Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), Fellowship
    Professor Mergan Naidoo was one of approximately 20 candidates chosen from the international community for the FAIMER fellowship. FAIMER aims to train its fellows from the health professions in educational methods and research, develop leadership and management skills and foster collaboration among global partners. Naidoo’s research interest is in developing an educational intervention programme that will assist with behaviour change.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa-FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) scholarship for Health Professions
    Lecturer Dr Keshena Naidoo from the Discipline of Family Medicine has been awarded a scholarship which is designed to teach education methods, scholarship, and leadership skills, and to develop an active, supportive professional network among educators. Naidoo’s project, supervised by Professor Jacqui van Wyk, is an interprofessional education model for geriatric care training of medical and nursing undergraduate students.

  • University capacity development funding (UCDP Seed funding to pilot a teaching & learning project)
    Dr Varsha Bangalee from the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences was awarded funding to develop a board game, as an integrated, active learning strategy for teaching Pharmacology and Pharmacy Practice in the discipline. The game, entitled “Pharmacy Phlash”, was developed with input from specialists in their respective fields: Dr F Oosthuizen, Dr P Owira, Dr V Perumal-Pillay and Ms F Walters.

...From left: Dr Kimesh Naidoo, Paedicatrician and 2018 SAFRI Fellow; Dr Jacky van Wyk, AL-Research and Ms Keshena Naidoo, 2019 SAFRI Fellow.

Teaching & Learning Symposia

College of Health Sciences Inaugural Teaching & Learning Symposium (2018)

The College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) Teaching & Learning Office held its inaugural Teaching & Learning Symposium, which is set to become an annual event on the College’s academic calendar.

Held under the title, “Implementation of the Graduate Core Competencies Framework for Undergraduate Students Towards Curriculum Transformation in the College of Health Sciences”, the symposium assessed best practice in the application of the seven graduate core competencies. It provided a platform to assess and share reflective insights on transformative teaching & learning practices that lead to students successfully graduating with attributes that are personally, professionally and socially valuable.Sessions included academics sharing their experiences with incorporating health advocacy, socially responsive communication, collaborative learning and DCTP across the College. The symposium allowed for scholarly interrogation of theory and practice designed to enhance our students’ experiences and success in higher education.

CHS T&L Symposium – Celebrating Teaching Excellence

In 2018, the College surpassed all goals to achieve excellence in Teaching & Learning. To ensure and drive this strategic goal, the CHS T&L Learning Symposium was coupled with the launch of the first Teaching & Learning Excellence awards in the College.

...From left: Dr Saul Cobbing, Dr Sooraj Baijnath, Professor Sinegugu Duma, Professor Shenuka Singh and Dr Andile Khathi
11th Annual South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) Conference – (27-30 June 2018)
The 11th Annual South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) Conference congregated in Umhlanga, drawing both national and international health science educators. SAAHE has a number of agendas, including to showcase best practice in health sciences education, stimulate debate and discussion regarding the education of health practitioners, and develop teaching and educational research capacity in health sciences educators. The conference theme for 2018 was “Deconstructed, decentralised, decolonised discourses and debates.” The conference was well represented by UKZN CHS academics.
...Table 11. Inaugural CHS Teaching & Learning Excellence awards
...Table 12. UKZN Presentations at SAAHE
The 2018 SAAHE Distinguished Educator Award

The 2018 SAAHE Distinguished Educator Award was made to Professor Fatima Suleman from the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She has been commended for her commitment to the development of teaching, her supervision skills and mentoring of new academics and colleagues across the CHS. She is responsible for conceptualising, developing and coordinating two completely online master’s programmes in Pharmacy and Health Sciences, as well as being instrumental in the development of online or blended master’s programmes in Mozambique and Malawi. Suleman was involved in the Medical Education Partnership Initiative grant, was a panel member on the WHO Technical Working Group on Health Workforce Education and Principle Investigator, Council for AFREhealth.

...Professor Fatima Suleman
Annual African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFREhealth) Symposium

The second Annual African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFREhealth) Symposium was held at Durban’s ICC on 20 June 2018. The symposium was hosted by the DRILL’s Principal Investigator Suleman (conference chair), Professor Petra Brysiewicz, Professor Mosa Moshabela, Professor Doug Wassenaar and Dr Suvira Ramlall, as well as the DRILL Project Management Team and DRILL Fellows.

Its theme — “Towards achieving universal health coverage in Africa – creating synergies and capacity through education, research and quality health services” — related to the move towards universal health coverage (UHC). The aim of AFREhealth is to promote African leadership with accessible health professions education training, research and service. This will, in turn, contribute to tackling key health priorities including HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and emerging and repeat epidemics and pandemics.

Several of the subthemes emerging from the symposium included discussions pertaining to creating a socially accountable health workforce education, training health professions for universal health coverage, perspectives on creating synergies and capacity through education and curriculum reform and transformative learning for the 21st century.

One of the sessions at the symposium explored the Medical Education Capacity Building between North-South and South-South partnerships for health system development in African countries. The symposium concluded with experiences, challenges and discussions of best practices and lessons learnt from these innovations in health professionals’ education, as countries move towards UHC implementation/scale up. Ongoing discussions throughout the symposium provided clarity on the skill set required for UHC and the innovative teaching & learning approaches required to impart the skills. The conference promoted the use of evidence in decision-making, as well as linkages with health systems and other initiatives.



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2017 Dlova, N., & Mosam, A. Dermatology: a Comprehensive Handbook for Africa. University of KwaZulu- Natal.

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