Our Alex Clinic Outreach program provides medical students with an opportunity to attend a night call at Alexandra Community Heath Centre (CHC). The CHC cultivates great potential for inquisitive students to learn, giving students the opportunity to practice diagnostic skills at acute patient care; suturing skills on patients deemed appropriate by the doctor on call; trauma in the trauma bay, and obstetrics at the maternity ward.
The Alex Clinic Outreach program was started in December 2012, but unfortunately had to be halted at the end of 2014. In May this year, the Wits Students’ Surgical Society was finally able to relaunch this project and continue sending students to the Clinic on the last Friday of each month. We are very fortunate to have the following parties, without whom the trips would not be possible, involved: ABSA for transportation; Olive and Plates for the food, the student volunteers and, most importantly, the Faculty of Health Sciences Office.
On the 27th May 2016, I gathered with a group of 6 fellow medical students spanning from GEMP I to GEMP IV, all of us geared up for the long night ahead of us. Each student carried their own equipment and a fuel-filled bag that would maintain their energy levels to survive the night.
We embarked at 19h00 on the familiar route to Sandton, only turning at the last minute into Alexandra Township. Upon arriving at the CHC, we familiarised ourselves with the clinic that was to be our home for the night.
The queue was already saturated with patients; nurses and the on-call doctor were busy with patients, and everything at the CHC was running in full gear. We placed our bags in the drip room and charged towards the mounting patient files. Dividing ourselves into teams that consisted of a junior (GEMP I and II) paired with a senior (GEMP III and IV), we got to work. The first laceration was sutured, the first drip inserted and a number of patients were clerked by the team within the first few minutes of the visit.
As the night went on, junior and senior students alike gained valuable knowledge and skills, as well as the confidence that comes with experience and practice.
Eventually, the first rays of dawn shone on the winter-swept Alexandra Township, signalling for us to return to Wits Medical School.
All in all, the first Alex Trip was a great success, with everything running seamlessly. I would like to thank the staff at Alexandra Clinic for all their wonderful assistance and for giving our students this opportunity to learn. The knowledge you have bestowed upon us is invaluable. I, for one, learnt a lot from the trip and I am certain that any other student who attends Alex Clinic would agree.