how many years to study medicine in south africa

Studying Medicine in South Africa

Are you considering a career in medicine in South Africa? If so, you may be wondering how long it takes to become a qualified doctor in this country. Pursuing a medical degree in South Africa is an exciting and challenging journey that requires dedication, hard work, and several years of study.

Undergraduate Medical Degree

In South Africa, the path to becoming a doctor begins by obtaining a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree. This undergraduate program typically takes six years to complete.

During the first two years of the program, students acquire a strong foundation in basic medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. They also gain an understanding of the fundamentals of patient care and medical ethics.

how many years to study medicine in south africa

The next two years focus on clinical rotations where students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in different medical specialities. These rotations take place in various healthcare settings, including clinics and hospitals. Students learn how to effectively diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of experienced doctors.

The final two years of the undergraduate degree involve more advanced clinical training. Students spend this time refining their skills, working closely with patients, and further developing their knowledge in specific areas of medicine.

Internship and Community Service

After completing the MBChB degree, graduates in South Africa must complete a two-year internship at a designated hospital. During this period, newly qualified doctors work under the guidance and supervision of experienced medical professionals. They gain practical experience in different medical departments and further enhance their clinical skills.

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Following the internship, doctors in South Africa are required to undertake a year of community service. This service aims to provide medical assistance in underserved areas and remote communities. It allows doctors to apply their knowledge in real-world settings, make a positive impact on people’s lives, and gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare challenges faced by South Africa.

Specialization and Further Training

Once doctors have completed their internship and community service, they have the option to pursue specialization in a specific field of medicine. Specialization programs in South Africa vary in length, depending on the chosen specialty. These programs typically range from four to six years.

During their specialization, doctors undergo intensive training to become experts in their chosen field. They work alongside experienced specialists, conduct research, and gain advanced skills and knowledge in their area of specialization.


Becoming a doctor in South Africa is a rigorous and rewarding journey that requires years of study and training. The undergraduate medical degree program takes six years to complete, followed by a two-year internship and a year of community service. For those who wish to specialize in a particular area of medicine, further training of four to six years is required. By embarking on this path, individuals have the opportunity to make a significant impact on people’s lives and contribute to the healthcare system in South Africa.

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