Supernumerary registrar experience at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

S Peer, S A Burrows, N Mankahla, J J Fagan


Background. Despite supernumerary registrars (SNRs) being hosted in South African (SA) training programmes, there are no reports of their experience.

Objectives. To evaluate the experience of SNRs at the University of Cape Town, SA, and the experience of SNRs from the perspective of SA registrars (SARs).

Methods. SNRs and SARs completed an online survey in 2012.

Results. Seventy-three registrars responded; 42 were SARs and 31 were SNRs. Of the SNRs 47.8% were self-funded, 17.4% were funded through private organisations, and 34.8% were funded by governments. Average annual income was ZAR102 349 (range ZAR680 - 460 000). Funding was considered insufficient by 61.0%. Eighty-seven percent intended to return to their home countries. Personal sacrifices were deemed worthwhile from academic (81.8%) and social (54.5%) perspectives, but not financially (33.3%). Only a small majority were satisfied with the orientation provided and with assimilation into their departments. Almost half experienced challenges relating to cultural and social integration. Almost all SARs supported having SNRs. SNRs reported xenophobia from patients (23.8%) and colleagues (47.8%), and felt disadvantaged in terms of learning opportunities, academic support and on-call allocations.

Conclusions. SNRs are fee-paying students and should enjoy academic and teaching support equal to that received by SARs. Both the university and the teaching hospitals must take steps to improve the integration of SNRs and ensure that they receive equal access to academic support and clinical teaching, and also need to take an interest in their financial wellbeing. Of particular concern are perceptions of xenophobia from SA medical colleagues.

Authors' affiliations

S Peer, Division of Otolaryngology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

S A Burrows, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, UK

N Mankahla, Division of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

J J Fagan, Division of Otolaryngology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Supernumerary registrars; Residents; African; University of Cape Town; Xenophobia; Medicine; Trainees; Specialisation; Funding

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(1):76-79. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i1.11345

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-12-21
Date published: 2016-12-21

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