what qualifications do i need to be a doctor in south africa

South Africa is a country that holds immense opportunities for aspiring doctors. Becoming a doctor in South Africa requires a certain set of qualifications and a dedication to the profession. In this article, we will explore the qualifications needed to pursue a career in medicine in South Africa.

Undergraduate Education

To begin your journey towards becoming a doctor in South Africa, you will first need to obtain a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree. This is a six-year undergraduate program offered by various universities across the country. Entrance into these programs is highly competitive and requires strong academic performance in subjects such as mathematics, physical sciences, and life sciences.

Admission Requirements

Each medical school in South Africa has its specific admission requirements. However, most programs typically require prospective students to have a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or an equivalent qualification with excellent marks. Additionally, you may also need to pass the National Benchmark Test (NBT) and undergo an interview process. It’s essential to research and familiarize yourself with the specific admission criteria of the medical school you are interested in.
what qualifications do i need to be a doctor in south africa

Medical School

Once admitted into a medical school, you will embark on an intensive and comprehensive journey to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become a doctor. The MBChB program is divided into two phases: preclinical and clinical. During the preclinical phase, you will primarily engage in classroom-based learning, where you will study subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, and pharmacology. This phase provides a strong foundation of medical knowledge. The clinical phase comes next, where you will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through rotations in various specialties. This phase allows students to interact with patients, apply their theoretical knowledge to real-life situations, and develop their clinical skills. It is during this phase that students truly start to feel like doctors-in-training.
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Internship and Community Service

After graduating from medical school, you need to complete a two-year internship at an accredited hospital or medical institution. This internship provides essential practical experience under the supervision of qualified doctors. During this period, you will rotate through different departments, including internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and more. Following the internship, you will need to undertake a year of community service in an underserved area or public hospital. This requirement aims to provide healthcare services to communities in need across South Africa.

Registration and Specialization

Once you have successfully completed your internship and community service, you can apply for registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). This registration is a legal requirement to practice medicine in the country. To further develop your career and specialize in a specific field of medicine, you can pursue a postgraduate degree. South Africa offers various specialization options, including surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and many more. Postgraduate training typically takes several years, during which you will gain advanced knowledge and expertise in your chosen specialty.

Continuing Professional Development

As a doctor in South Africa, it is crucial to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) activities. CPD ensures that doctors stay up-to-date with the latest medical advancements and improve their skills throughout their careers. This can include attending conferences, workshops, and completing relevant courses or research.


Becoming a doctor in South Africa requires dedication, perseverance, and a passion for healthcare. By successfully completing an undergraduate degree, medical school, internship, and community service, you can fulfill your dream of practicing medicine. Constant learning and a commitment to CPD will ensure that you remain at the forefront of medical knowledge and continue to provide the best possible care to patients throughout your career.

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