This is a huge hospital serving a large segment of Cape Town and the townships. All specialties are here. It has a level one trauma unity, which is busy seeing 35,000 cases a year, half deliberate acts and half penetrating trauma. This is mainly gunshots, stabbings, and car accidents. There is an acute arm – admitting and stabilising trauma patients – and a surgical arm – performing acute and subacute procedures on them. Common trauma includes thoracic cases such as stabbed hearts, neck trauma, abdominal and vascular injury. The hospital spends a million a year on security to sop gangs coming in to finish the job. There is a high incidence of HIV. There is also an excellent neurology and cardiothoracic department.

Apply at least a year in advance if you want to do trauma. It is popular with Australian, German, Dutch and British students because of the excellent social life. It’s good for trauma, with many practical procedures, and there is a good lecture programme. There are lots of UCT students who have preferential treatment however. Reports say that the head of department is very strict. You do not manage any patients without any senior consultants and you must be present when you are supposed to be. Medical pathology includes TB, AIDS, and rheumatic fever. Cardiothoracic surgery is good as the students have a rota system giving plenty of time off, but ward rounds start at 7am. There are 22 languages used in the area, not a problem unless you are doing psychiatry, where it really does limit you to being an observer.

Accommodation:

The Lodge

36 Milton Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Telephone Number: +27 21 448 6536

The Lodge is a good place to stay. It seems as if all the medical students stay here and some people have left because of this and questions of security. They can also arrange cheap car hire. The Green Elephant Hostel is also good. Some people have preferred Sunflower Stop (Main Road, Greenpoint. Telephone Number: +27 21 434 6535, Fax Number: +27 21 434 6801), which is nearer to the beaches and waterfront.