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Clinical elective placements
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International & local electives (non-UCT students)

The Faculty offers a clinical elective training program to international and South African undergraduate students studying a health sciences degree at other institutions. The clinical elective training offered by UCT is complimentary to the clinical training that we expect visiting students to have received at their home institution before they arrive.  In other words, we require students from other institutions to have had the requisite clinical training and exposure to patients to be able to undertake the elective. It is for this reason that electives at our institution are only allowed in the final or penultimate year of their studies, and students must have had at least two years of clinical training.

The Faculty of Health Sciences (UCT) has undertaken a review of its elective program with the intention to provide International visiting students wishing to complete electives at the health care institutions in the Western Cape a more rewarding elective experience.

In order to do this, we have changed the manner in which we review and place potential applicants. The number of enquiries for placements increase annually in relation to the number of placements available at our teaching hospitals. The capacity to attend to each student has therefore become impossible, and we understand that this has led to frustration and delays in placements.

The elective fee is aligned with the with the student fees for medical students in South Africa.

The process is as follows:

  • Students may stay for a minimum two week elective rotation per department/division, depending on availability and capacity
  • The cost per two week rotation is R7500 and will include the Health Professions Council of South Africa registration fee.

2019 Start Date (Every 2nd Monday Start)

14 January 2019

20 May 2019 23 September 2019

28 January 2019

03 June 2019 07 October 2019

11 February 2019

17 June 2019 21 October 2019

25 February 2019

01 July 2019 04 November 2019

11 March 2019

15 July 2019 18 November 2019

25 March 2019

29 July 2019 02 December 2019

08 April 2019

12 August 2019 16 December 2019

22 April 2019

26 August 2019  

06 May 2019

09 September 2019  
Applications for 2019 will be accepted from 2 October - 31 December 2017

Please do not expect a response during that period, we will alert successful students from February 2018 onwards.

We require the following for your application to be considered:  

  • Subject line: 2019 Elective Placement
  • The discipline you intend to follow and an alternative if this is unavailable
  • The exact start and end date for your intended elective in 2019/alternative date
  • A CV outlining your level/exposure of practical experience
  • A proof of registration from your university
  • A certified copy of a valid passport

We are currently assessing applications. Please note, that this process does take time and we will notify successful candidates.

This page will be updated with any new information and should spaces become available.

Please note that all placements are subject to availability.

If you have an enquiry with the new placement system or in general, please clearly indicate your intention in the subject of your email to elective.healthsciences@uct.ac.za

Thank you

The Elective Office

Only students in their final or semi-final year of study at other institutions may be considered for placement in a variety of disciplines, for elective periods ranging from 2 weeks to 4 months.

Applications should be submitted at least a year in advance of the proposed visit. The reason for this is that most disciplines are fully booked up to a year in advance, and that the process of registering applicants with the Health Professions Council in Pretoria (which must be done before students arrive) takes at least six months.

Training takes place at our teaching hospitals (Groote Schuur Hospital, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital) and associated hospitals (New Somerset Hospital and Victoria Hospital).

Who is eligible to be considered for an elective placement?

We accept visiting students from other health sciences faculties who are in their second last year or final (clinical) year of study only.

All applicants must have a good command of the English language as all teaching and instruction is conducted in English.

Disciplines in which elective placements are available

All visiting elective students may apply for a placement in the following departments and hospitals under the auspices of the University of Cape Town:

Groote Schuur Hospital - Observatory, Cape Town
General Medicine Dermatology
General Surgery Neurology
Trauma Paediatrics (Endrocrinology)
Emergency (Medical) Ophthalmology
Obstetrics and Gynaecology Psychiatry
Cardio-thoracic Surgery Neurosurgery
Orthopaedic Surgery Plastic Surgery
Infectious diseases/HIV Medicine Otorhinolaryngology (ENT)
Family Medicine Forensic Medicine
Radiology Gastroenterology (Medical or Surgical)

Emergency Unit: Falls under the Department of Medicine. This is where patients come with emergency illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening. Examples might include sudden severe stomach pains, shortness of breath, or severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea.

Trauma Unit: Falls under the Department of Surgery. The Unit provides comprehensive emergency services to patients who have traumatic injuries. Examples of traumatic injuries include those sustained in automobile accidents, gunshot wounds, stab wounds etc.

Red Cross Children's Hospital Rondebosch, Cape Town
General Paediatric Medicine Paediatric Surgery
Paediatric Trauma Paediatric Neurology
Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Paediatric Cardiology


Somerset Hospital Green Point, Cape Town
Medicine Paediatrics
Obstetrics and Gynaecology Surgery


Victoria Hospital Plumstead, Cape Town
General Surgery Trauma


*Mitchells Plain Hospital – Mitchells Plain, Cape Town
General Medicine Emergency Centre (combined, paediatric, adult, medical and trauma)
General Surgery Anaesthesia
Paediatrics Obstetrics and Gynaecology

*This hospital operates in the Mitchells Plain Health District of the Metro Region. 

*George Regional Hospital - George, Western Cape
General Medicine Psychiatry
General Surgery Physiotherapy
Emergency Medical Services/Family Medicine Occupational Therapy
Paediatrics/Neonatology Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Orthopaedic Surgery Ophthalmology

*This hospital serves the population of Eden and Central Karoo Districts. 

Registration with the University

Registration with this University is required for the duration of the elective period at Groote Schuur or Red Cross Children’s Hospital and associated hospitals.  Students must, on arrival in Cape Town, report to the Elective Officer at the Faculty Office, Faculty of Health Sciences, Anzio Road, Observatory, between 08h30 and 12h30, in order to be registered.  Students who have not paid their full fee in advance will not be registered and may not start their elective clerkship until this has been done. Students who are placed at Victoria and New Somerset hospital must report at those hospitals after registration at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

  1. Clinical elective rotation fees

    Once you have been informed that we can accommodate you in one of our departments, you can secure the booking by sending us, before your arrival, the completed forms and the fees. This will be detailed in a Provisional Booking email. The registration fees for an international student applying for an elective clerkship through the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Cape Town are currently under review.Please note that the Faculty reserves the right to increase the fees on an annual basis.
  2. HPCSA registration fees

    All students completing a Clinical Elective must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The Faculty's Elective Office will make application on students’ behalf to the HPCSA. However, fees must be paid direct into the HPCSA bank account and proof of payment must be sent to the Faculty Office (via email).

    Please note: The HPCSA increases the registration fee annually -usually from 1 April. The updated fee with be communicated to the student.

All fees may be paid in the form of an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).


Students must make their own arrangements for accommodation. There is no accommodation available in the University residences.

Study visas

All non - South African students are required to obtain study permits if the elective period exceeds 90 days, before they enter South Africa. As soon as we have received a student's completed forms and HPCSA payment, we will send the student a letter confirming the elective placement. The student must then apply to the nearest South African Consulate-General or Embassy for a study visa. When applying for your study permit/visa the following is normally required: You will most likely require two passport-size photographs, a letter from this Faculty of Health Sciences confirming your elective placement and indicating that you have been registered with the Health Professions Council, a guarantee that you are able to cover your repatriation fee to your country of origin, provision of proof of comprehensive medical insurance / health coverage and a letter from your own University confirming that you are visiting South Africa for an elective placement.

If the duration of your stay is 90 days or less, you need not apply for a study permit; you will be issued with a visitor's visa however you must contact the nearest South African Consulate/Embassy in this regard.

Insurance cover

Once registered with the University, students will have professional indemnity cover (but please note that the excess is very high) and will have limited personal insurance cover. It would be advisable for you to take out additional insurance in your own country before your visit.

Apart from the above scheme, the University provides no other cover for bodily injury, illness or death of students and no cover for personal possessions, including motor vehicles, even where a student may be involved in compulsory academic activity. Students must arrange their own personal insurance cover.

Professional conduct and dress code

Undergraduate students are expected to act in accordance with the ethical norms laid down by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.  Students who are found guilty of unprofessional conduct will have their registration terminated and a letter will be written to their home university to report their transgression/s.

Professional conduct includes an appropriate dress code, particularly when students are in contact with patients.   Students must be neat and presentable; excessive casual or suggestive clothing is not acceptable. Students who come for clinical elective placements must wear a white coat at all times while on duty, and must bring such white coat with them.

Students are supplied with an identification card upon arrival, which must be worn at all times while on duty.

Students may be denied access to a particular clinical area if, in the view of the manager of the area, they are not suitably dressed.

Students must  also  bring their own white coats and stethoscopes.   Theatre gowns and gloves will be supplied by the hospital.

Research ethics requirements for elective students doing a research project

If a student, as part of an elective placement, wishes to conduct a research project involving human participants or their personal medical records, they need ethics approval.  Also, it must be established in advance whether an appropriate supervisor can be identified for such a student in advance of the student’s visit. The research project must be feasible and at the student’s level of expertise.

[Note: The research proposal must undergo two separate review processes.  First, the relevant departmental research committee will review the scientific and scholarly merit of the proposal.  Second, the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) in the Faculty of Health Sciences will review ethical aspects of the application.  A student’s local supervisor at his/her home university should assist with these applications.  Even if the student’s proposal has ethical approval in his/her home institution, it still needs UCT research ethics approval.

If you are joining a study that already has research ethics approval, your local supervisor still needs to obtain HREC approval to include you in the existing research.

You also need to ask your local supervisor if you must obtain additional administrative approval or authorisation from medical superintendents or managers to conduct your research, including accessing personal medical records, in specific settings such as hospitals, community-based health centres and non-governmental organisations.

It is advisable to obtain ethics approval six months in advance of a research elective visit.  Before submitting your proposal to the HREC, you need to make sure it complies with the ethical principles laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and  the  Research  Ethics  Guidelines of  the  South  African  (SA) Department of Health, 2004. Your research must also comply with SA law, for instance the requirements for informed consent and special considerations when undertaking research among minors (<18 years of age).

For more information about how to apply for research ethics approval contact Mrs Lamees Emjedi, the Administrative Officer in the HREC. Her email address is  Lamees.Emjedi@uct.ac.za.