Interns with Child and Family Health International (CFHI) in South Africa complete rotations in a variety of clinical and non-profit care facilities. Applicants spend five weeks in Durban and five weeks in Cape Town. The rotation sites in Durban are focused on HIV/AIDS and its impact on the health system, while the rotations in Cape Town are more focused on health care challenges in general. Students in Durban will experience a wider range of health facilities including hospices, teaching hospitals and public and private clinics. In Cape Town, students will spend their time primarily within two major urban hospitals and their associated township clinics, getting familiar with the different wards within these two large medical systems. This is a great opportunity for students interested in pre-med, pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy, and public health.
Founded in 1992 by Dr. Evaleen Jones, Child Family Health International offers educational and community health programs at 20+ sites in 6 countries. To date, their programs have 7000+ alumni from 35 countries. Many participants in the programs are medical students who spend 4 weeks on rotations. The joint program with IE3 allows for 10 weeks of rotations for pre-med, pre-nursing, and public health students.
CFHI’s program highlights the challenges faced by the post-apartheid public healthcare system taking into consideration the threats of HIV/AIDS, serious environmental health issues, and other underlying causes of poor health in the region. The program will focus on health issues addressed through community development projects in health, as well as some clinical interventions.
Applicants to this program will divide their time between Durban and Cape Town. The two programs are described in more detail below. The major differences between the Durban and Cape Town programs, besides the contrasting cultures and settings of the two cities, is that the rotation sites in Durban are more focused on HIV/AIDS and its impact on the health system, while the sites in Cape Town look at health care challenges in general. Students in Durban will experience a wider range of health facilities including hospices, teaching hospitals and public and private clinics. In Cape Town, students will spend their time primarily within two major urban hospitals and their associated township clinics, getting familiar with the different wards within these two large medical systems.
Students on this program will rotate through a variety of clinics, hospitals and emergency services as participants in the CFHI program as described in CFHI’s website http://www.cfhi.org/. Clinical rotations are designed to offer interns clinical and public health experience relevant to your level of medical education, much like what you would experience during a rotation or internship in the United States. IE3 interns may work with the local coordinators to identify the health care services/departments where they would like to spend more time.
The Durban program highlights the challenges faced by the post-apartheid public healthcare system taking into consideration the threats of HIV/AIDS, environmental health issues, and other underlying causes of poor health in the region. The program combines service-learning opportunities in a range of clinical settings and will focus on health issues addressed through clinical interventions and community development projects in health. Rotation opportunities include clinics, major teaching hospitals and a hospice.
Durban is the capital city of Kwa-Zulu Natal province, and is the second largest city in South Africa. It is located on the Indian Ocean and boasts mild weather, beautiful beaches, and diversity that represents South African society creating a unique fusion of cultures: it is home to the Zulu nation, descendants of indentured laborers from India and British settlers. Of course, you will also find people of Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana heritage among many others in Durban. Durban has an important history in the political development of the country throughout the apartheid era, it being the site of the first African National Congress (ANC) national convention, and also where the young Mahatma Gandhi was inspired to lead movements based in nonviolent principles. Its political history combined with some of the most notable health challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa today makes Durban an ideal location to spend time attempting to understand common complexities of public health and primary care.
In Cape Town, interns will rotate through a variety of community clinics associated with the Eerste River Hospital and a number of wards within the GF Jooste Hospital, both located in the Cape Flats. This program offers students a unique educational experience as they follow patients through their treatments and become a part of the healthcare teams at both hospitals and community clinics. Experience first-hand the healthcare challenges facing South Africa, where, under the Apartheid regime, the vast majority of people had limited or non-existent healthcare until the 1990s. Though great improvements have since been made, much remains to be done, both for the underserved population and South Africa’s healthcare system in general. Today, South Africa has emerged as a critical battleground for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. CFHI interns may integrate clinical pharmacy experiences as part of the Cape Town portion of the program.
Cape Town is a beautiful city flanked by the magnificent Table Mountain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Visitors can get a fairly accurate view of Cape Town within the first twenty minutes of their drive from the airport. As with most South African cities, Cape Town is structured according to class, the richer being closer to the city center and the poorest furthest away. The outskirts of Cape Town is called Cape Flats. The Cape Flats were created when many non-white citizens were forcibly removed from the city center during the Apartheid era. This is where the Eerse River Community Health program is located and where interns stay during the program.
Cape Town has some of the worlds most beautiful and interesting sights. It is home to such famous places as Table Mountain, Robben Island, and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and also boasts fascinating museums, lots of culture and art, and some of the country’s best beaches. The major languages in the Western Cape include Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, and Sotho. Language should not be a problem as English is spoken by everyone, even if it is their second or third language.
NOTE: Rotation availability depends on local conditions. All rotations are subject to change depending on local availability and general South African holidays. Local coordinators will try and make alternate arrangements if a particular activity or facility is not available during the program month. Restrictions may apply for pre-clinical, and pre-medical students.
CFHI programs are not episodic volunteer experiences, and are not designed to provide service to those who would otherwise not have healthcare. The learning objectives for interns with CFHI are:
* Fees vary based on medical history and insurance coverage
Budgeting Note: Past interns have suggested that interns may want to bring additional money so that they may participate in the wide range of activities Cape Town and surrounding areas have to offer. Do some research about suggested activities for visitors and the related costs and think about if you will need to budget additional funds.
The CFHI Host Site Fees Includes:
Room and board for 10 weeks.
In Cape Town and Durban interns stay with a South African family in a middle class suburban neighborhood. In some cases CFHI participants may be housed with others in the same homestay, but will always have their own room. Accommodation includes two meals a day. Homestays provide a unique opportunity to learn about local culture.
From RSA to USA by Alex Crane: University of Oregon student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient interning with Child Family Health International: Pre-Med Rotations in South Africa during Summer term, 2012 (October 30, 2012).
South African Healthcare by Alex Crane: University of Oregon student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient interning with Child Family Health International: Pre-Med Rotations in South Africa during Summer term, 2012 (September 18, 2012).
Time, people, and adventures: South Africa from my perspective by Ryan O’Neal: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient interning with Child Family Health International: Pre-Med Rotations in South Africa during Spring term, 2012 (September 4, 2012).
Tour of Durban by Ryan O’Neal: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient who interned with Child Family Health International South Africa in the spring (August 21, 2012).
Back to Reality by Selina Liu: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient who interned with Child Family Health International South Africa in the spring (July 24, 2012).
Goodbye, Durban by Selina Liu: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global scholarship recipient who interned with Child Family Health International South Africa in the spring (July 10, 2012).
Returning Home with a New Perspective and a Scattered Mind by Jennifer Lund: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global Scholarship recipient (March 13, 2012)
Caught Up in Cape Town by Jennifer Lund: Oregon State University student and IE3 Global Scholarship recipient (March 13, 2012)
Coming home with new perspectives by Stella Chiu: University of Oregon student and IE3 Global Summer 2010 Scholarship Recipient (October 26, 2010)
Sawubona from South Africa! by Stella Chiu: University of Oregon student and IE3 Global Summer 2010 Scholarship Recipient (September 6, 2010)
“ While I have studied public health and human development in depth through my studies, I entered my internship with little exposure to clinical practice, patient care and medical terminology. As a result, I often found it challenging to find my place as an intern within clinical and hospital settings in South Africa, and often doubted my ability as an emerging healthcare professional because of the huge learning curve I was constantly experiencing. While this internship helped me realize that I do hope to pursue a career in public health and prevention rather than in clinical medicine, I am so grateful for the opportunity to gain such intimate exposure to patient care and see first-hand how public health and medicine intersect. Being able to incorporate my knowledge of healthcare systems, prevention frameworks and health education to the treatment and assessment of patients with diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer was an incredibly rewarding experience. While the learning curve was certainly steep in medical settings, I challenged myself to ask questions and to absorb and process as much information as I could. Through this, I learned to be patient with myself, to build and maintain professional relationships and to be confident in the perspectives I was bringing to the table.
…I am so proud of the fact that I continued to challenge myself to absorb as much information as I could during our rotations and to ask questions about things that I was unsure about (even if they seemed extremely simple). Most of the time, the doctors and staff that I reached out to with questions were more than willing to explain a procedure, term, condition or process to me. I also made sure to do my own research to solidify my understanding of whatever I had learned from them…I was very proactive in reaching out to professionals to discuss my career goals and their insights on the field. Throughout my time at Red Cross, I spoke with the Heads of Pediatric Surgery and Trauma, with the Executive Director of Child Safe-an affiliated community support program, and with the Heads of Health Promotion at the Western Cape Department of Health.
I really enjoyed being able to gain exposure to such a wide range of healthcare delivery, including several different types of surgeries (cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, general surgery), clinic-based appointments, counseling sessions, health education initiatives, and medication prescription. In the hospital setting, rotating with doctors through ward rounds and appointments gave us the opportunity to see a lot of the health challenges that patients were experiencing. Especially as someone who has never really seen themselves in a clinical setting, I loved having the opportunity to work so closely with the medical staff and now feel much more open to a career in medicine than I ever have.”
-Nidhi, Oregon State University
“I enjoyed the one-on-one time you get with healthcare professionals. Surgery rotations are always interesting. I have seen some amazing surgeries ranging from liver transplants, AV valve repairs, and esophageal atresia repairs. Clinic visits are nice too, because you are able to ask more questions, and have more patient interaction.
Majority of my time was spend in the surgery dept. so my knowledge grew substantially in this field. I learned about anorectal malformations, esophageal atresia, hernias and more. Each one I learned not only about the surgical procedure but about the complications the risk factors, and contributing social aspects. Overall, I think this internship provides an immense amount of medical knowledge and also a perspective about how the healthcare system operates in South Africa compared to the US.
Since being back, I have gotten the question “How was South Africa?” countless times. It’s hard to explain the entire trip. I don’t think anyone will ever fully understand my experience, except for the other interns. But my answer to this question is always “fun, eye-opening, and informative.” I was able to have some many once in a life time experiences and learn about the local history and culture, through visiting places like Robben Island. Additionally, gaining over 400 clinical hours provides you with an immense amount of knowledge!”
-Justine, Oregon State University
“A professional accomplishment that I am proud of, is my ability to look at healthcare with an open mind and new perspective. When I first arrived, I was so naive when it came to treating patients and not considering the entire picture. I always did my best to be unbiased and consider all aspects of treating a patient other than just a diagnosis. However, being exposed to complex issues of social problems, finances, and limited resources, I have really changed my way of thinking when providing care for patients.
I have really enjoyed being able to interact with all different types of doctors. Being able to observe procedures and having the doctor explain each surgical step to you is very enlightening and interesting. I would say a challenge is being confident in pushing myself to make initial connections with the staff. After I have overcome this obstacle, I am always very thankful and interact well with everyone. I think that creating personable conversations with people and having a genuine and thoughtful mindset is crucial for success and progress.
While splitting my time between Durban and Cape Town, I was stationed in several local clinics, hospice care centers, and major teaching hospitals. Throughout rotations, our main focus was on HIV/AIDS and systematic healthcare challenges, in which I cultivated a deep understanding of the healthcare issues within the country. While observing all aspects of healthcare (surgical procedures, social work, nursing duties, clinical work, and administrative meetings), I learned of the major differences between South African and American systems. Additionally, I gained many personal skills. I learned how to adapt to frequent changes and became confident in my ability to succeed throughout these life adjustments. Lastly, my ambition to become a nurse has grown even stronger. This program has taught me to appreciate my life at home and to live with a purpose of serving others.”
-Nicole, University of Washington
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad in South Africa. This internship is one I will never forget, for so many reasons. For starters, the people I met in South Africa were incredible. We interns supported each other and were always having fun with each other. Our local counterparts were unbelievably kind and had so much to teach about their work and culture. I gained so much from those relationships and being able to immerse myself in the community. The hospitals and clinics were also memorable for me. My eyes were opened to a completely different, yet still successful, way to practice medicine. The staff and patients always greeted us with a smile and were thrilled to share their knowledge with us. I really enjoyed sitting-in on meetings about the patients. You would get to hear their social and medical history as well as their current plan for treatment.
Exploring South Africa in the way we were able to was such a unique experience. We were able to do touristy things like zip line, go on wine tours and have a beach day but, also participate in things like locals such as the restaurants we would eat at, or beaches we would visit or cooking classes we would attend. I am so thankful and grateful to have been able to participate in this internship.”
-Kierra, University of Washington
“I can’t express enough how glad I am to have gone on this program. Professionally, I have gotten hundreds of clinical observation hours that have exposed me to many areas of medicine, experienced good and bad examples of doctor-patient communication, broadened my sense of global healthcare and healthcare challenges, and learned how to confidently communicate with doctors in a professional setting. Cross-culturally, I have gained a sense of cultural competency that encompasses a sense of genuine curiosity in trying to understand a culture and why it is the way that it is. Personally, I have developed a greater and broader sense of independence and confidence in my abilities.”
-Maria Oljaca, University of Washington
“…One of the biggest lessons has been learning how not to judge somebody by my own cultural standards. This has also been very rewarding. Learning that you must look at each culture through a different lens has made me realize how I can appreciate South African culture in much different way than I can my own.”
-William Wallach, Oregon State University
"Professionally, this type of medical internship presents and individual with an opportunity to be involved in different fields of medical care delivery, some of which one may not have previously considered. I received exposure to many different medical fields, such as OB/GYN, surgery, pediatrics and pharmacy."
- Sara Natwick, Oregon State University
"After meeting so many friendly and welcoming people, I started to see the country through these people that I interacted with everyday rather than based on the problems of the country as a whole."
- Juanita Law, University of Washington
Summer: January 25
Fall: April 15
Winter: September 1
Spring: November 15
- Pre-med, pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy, public health, and other pre-health courses
- Prior experience in health care settings preferred