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The South Africa Program

Through an alliance with the University of Pretoria, the IASE South Africa program is a community and primary care clerkship rotation in rural and/or urban clinics, and general community hospitals.

The focus of the program is on clinical work and primary care support, health education and community research projects.  Participants in the program are placed by the University of Pretoria and IASE in the clinics or in the hospitals according to their level of clinical experience and space.  Those participants from other disciplines receive their placement before departure.


One such rural clinic is the Mathibestad clinic.  Mathibestad is a settlement of about 50,000 inhabitants.  It is one of about 70 villages in the District of Moretele which has a total population of about 333,000 people.  It is 70 Km North of Pretoria and about 20 Km from Hammanskraal.  The climate is mild most of the year with occasional Summer thunderstorms and a cold dry winter.

Water is scarce.  Most people living in rural areas do not have running water in their homes.  Unemployment, be it in rural or urban areas, is high (35%)and rising.  There is usually a small amount of subsistence farming, but most adults living in rural areas tend to travel to the cities such as Pretoria or Johannesburg to find employment.

Services:  Health, teaching and community requested programs

Participants in the South African program may spend the whole week splitting the time between working in rural clinics such as the one in Mathibestad, urban community clinics run by the University of Pretoria Medical School, or in local community hospitals.  Rural clinics are usually run by the District Health Services of the North West Province.  The Tribal Authorities are usually represented on the Clinic Forum in an advisor capacity for the rural clinics.

The Mathibestad clinic is an example of a rural clinic and mentioned under the heading of Primary Health Care.  This includes the management of common illnesses and the follow-up of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.  Students will learn the basic clinical skills of history taking and examination, diagnostic reasoning and rational prescribing under the direct supervision of a Medical Preceptor from the University of Pretoria or from the local medical doctor, and depending on the medical student's clinical preparation, will spend mornings or afternoons either working in the clinic in the capacity of a student seeing patients and providing basic clinical care and practical health information to the community, and/or working on community projects arranged prior his/her departure.  Students may at times be working with an interpretor in certain situations in which there is a language barrier.

In addition, IASE students will be working with other medical students from the University of Pretoria and from other medical students visiting from around the world.

Depending on the patient load and the discretion of the medical preceptor, students may work mornings or afternoons in the clinics or hospitals.  If the patient load is lighter, then they may spend that time working with the community on certain projects requested by the medical preceptor and/or the rural community leaders.  Normally, students will work on topics and projects with the support of physicians, other community members, and/or public health nurses from the urban or rural communities.


Learning:  Language classes, seminars and community research projects

Participants may be able to attend classes and seminars with other students depending on availability.  Participants may take a classes depending on time and location.  Most people in the Northern Provinces speak TSWANA.  TSAWANA is part of the larger group of SOTHO languages which include PEDI (Northern Sotho) and Southern Sotho, which is spoken in Lesotho.

Students will also learn the appropriate use of medical terminology and colloquial idioms.  In general, seminars may be offered at different times during the week on location depending on availability of faculty and if time permits it.

The medical seminars/tutorials are usually run by the medical preceptor.  The tutorials, held at different times, deal with different medical topics relevant to the community and affected population.  Topics for the seminars vary, and are held on location such as in the community clinics, hospitals or residences throughout the week.

In addition, participants may work on specific community research projects that have been approved by IASE and the participant's home institution.  These projects provide an opportunity for participants and community members to work together on an issue that is of importance to them and to the growth of their community.


One of the main purposes of the clerkship rotation is to work toward making a significant difference to the health of the community and in your medical education.  The hope is to introduce more effective prevention of HIV transmission from pregnant mothers to their babies.  Participation in projects in an area of your interest is encouraged.


Participants stay at the University of Pretoria Campus residences. Meals, sheets and towels are included.

Calendar and Course Schedule

Summer Program begins January 22nd, 2007 through May 30th, 2007. Summer/Winter Program begins July 16th, 2007 through November 22nd, 2007.

Participation in the South Africa Program is either 6 or 8 weeks.  Students may request four weeks.

IASE reserve the right to change or cancel the South Africa program dates at any time at our discretion.


IASE will not be responsible for any loss or damage to self or personal property.  IASE requires that students obtain travel insurance that provides reimbursements for health care abroad and emergency evacuation insurance.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

In the event of circumstances beyond our control, IASE reserves the right to cancel any program at any time. 

Payments are nonrefundable, absent extraordinary circumstances, as determined at the sole discretion of IASE.  Please note that any airfare penalties charged by any airline or travel agent are not the responsibility of IASE.


Registration Fee (nonrefundable)   $110

Program Fee                              $490/wk

Fees are subject to change

* Fees and tuition entitle participants to University community services, use of the University libraries, room and board.  E-mail access (at the University of Pretoria) depends on availability.


Local and International Programs

South Africa Program

Mexico Program

WEL Program

Community Based Experiential Learning Program in Hoover School and Sequoia High School