Opinion Paper

The need for nationally accepted guidelines for undergraduate nuclear medicine teaching in MBChB programmes in South Africa

Anthonio O. Adefuye, Henry A. Adeola, Stuart More, Zainab Mohamed
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 24, No 1 | a1874 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v24i1.1874 | © 2020 Anthonio O. Adefuye, Henry A. Adeola, Stuart More, Zainab Mohamed | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 February 2020 | Published: 28 July 2020

About the author(s)

Anthonio O. Adefuye, Division of Health Sciences Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Henry A. Adeola, Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Stuart More, Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of Radiation Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Zainab Mohamed, Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

According to the South African Health Professions Act No. 56 of 1974, specific skills outcomes of MBChB programmes are that a medical graduate must be able to utilise diagnostic aids, interpret findings and make diagnoses. Imaging techniques are an integral part of the numerous diagnostic and therapeutic aids used in contemporary medical practice; however, in South Africa, no formal directives exist to guide programme directors or nuclear medicine departments regarding an appropriate undergraduate nuclear medicine educational module. As of 2013, six South African schools of medicine are involved in undergraduate nuclear medicine teaching, in which it forms part of clinical modules taught at varying stages in the academic curriculum. Against this backdrop is the inequitable distribution of nuclear medicine resources, training facilities and staffing in the local state health sector. Inadequate undergraduate teaching and provincial differences in nuclear medicine service provision suggest that many clinicians and graduating medical students are unaware of how radionuclide techniques can facilitate patient management. This high level of imaging illiteracy has been associated with lack of patient referral, poor quality and inadequate referral, poor knowledge of radiation doses and poor awareness of radiation risks. Here we highlight the challenges of undergraduate nuclear medicine teaching in South Africa, emphasising the need for the implementation of guidelines for undergraduate nuclear medicine education. Employing nationally accepted guidelines for undergraduate nuclear medicine teaching in South African MBChB programmes will contribute to the effective utilisation of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging as a diagnostic and therapeutic modality by newly qualified medical practitioners.

Keywords

nuclear medicine, South Africa, medical school curricula, education, undergraduate.

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