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Completing and obtaining the undergraduate medical degree in South Africa can be daunting. Prospective medical students need to know what is expected from them, and what they need to go through, if they want to delve into medicine.

Becoming a doctor is a passion driven profession, and it shouldn't be sought after to gain riches and fame. That should be reserved for other careers.

When wanting to study medicine in South Africa, you have to aware that you will be exposed to many acute illnesses which include tuberculosis, hepatitis B, HIV, as well as injuries from trauma caused by violence and motor vehicle accidents. Medicine needs to be a calling and you need to be a hard and smart, not necessarily clever (as the medical schools want you to be), worker.  

The South African undergraduate medical degree

The undergraduate medical degree in South Africa is abbreviated as M.B.,Ch.B., which stands for the latin Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae (translated as Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). This is the exact same qualification as the American M.D. (Medical Doctor) and the British M.B.,B.S. 

Studying straight after school

Unlike the American system, where students need to complete a pre-med course or part of one, South African learners can be accepted into medical schools across the country when they have completed high school. There are those learners who take a year off to complete post-matric studies by taking part in subjects that they need in order to be accepted into medicine which are; Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences (previously known as biology); or they can enter a Bachelor of Science programme if they are not accepted into medical school immediately after school.

The criteria for acceptance into a medical school includes doing exceptionally well in the mentioned subjects, and also passing the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) on a proficient level.

Nowadays, the Faculty of Health Sciences at the universities with medical schools have a B.Med.Sc. (Bachelor of Medical Sciences) course. This is chosen by prospective medical students, who haven't been accepted into medical school, as the subjects in this programme are similar to those in the first year of medicine. These students then use the marks from their first semester to apply to the medical school for the following year.

How long do you have to study

All the undergraduate medical degrees in South Africa are 6 year programme, except for the University of the Free State which has a 5 year medical degree programme. Many of the medical schools also have what's called an Extended Degree Programme, where students have 2 years to complete the first year of study. This is usually reserved for students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who just need extra time in order to catch up with the work.

How good of a degree is the South African M.B.,Ch.B.

South African medical schools are known for providing excellent theoretical and practical training to their medical students who end up with excellent skill-sets. These medical schools are at the fore-front of clinical research and technological advancements, and these students are exposed to all these aspects.

South African doctors are sought after all over the world, and this degree in internationally recognized on the same level as the American, British and Australian medical degrees.

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