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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Innovative solutions benefit students

INNOVATIVE: The Department of Biomedical Sciences is working with other universities and exploring innovative solutions to ensure students complete their training. INNOVATIVE: The Department of Biomedical Sciences is working with other universities and exploring innovative solutions to ensure students complete their training.

The Department of Biomedical Sciences is pulling out all the stops to ensure that its students and those at other institutions continue receiving excellent training amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Glenda Davison, Associate Professor and Head of the Department, said one of the main challenges was how to continue teaching in an abnormal situation while ensuring that students complete the year while maintaining physical distancing and safety.

“This was particularly important for the final fourth-years who are required to complete clinical practice in an accredited laboratory before being able to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The laboratories in the Western Cape are under severe pressure and so students were not allowed to continue their training and have been at home throughout the lockdown.”

Davison said the solution was to work together with all other universities of technology offering this programme and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).

“Because our qualifications are dependent on HPCSA accreditation and approval, the various universities decided to put together a proposal for the HPCSA on how we could, as a united group, continue with both third- and fourth-year clinical practice,” she said.

“After an online meeting, we drafted a document which proposed that the requirements to register be supplemented with offsite training. This could include training in a simulated clinical practice laboratory, online videos which would demonstrate relevant laboratory procedures, online tutorials and learning material.”

Davison said the NHLS had partnered with the university and had already set up online sessions using Zoom.

“The proposal suggests that with the supplementation of training with these alternative methods, students will be able to achieve the competency needed to register. The joint proposal is to serve at the next professional board meeting.”

She added that CPUT was fortunate to have a simulated clinical practice laboratory situated at the NHLS in Green Point. This laboratory is able to provide training to students in an environment which is similar to the workplace but in small groups and in a focussed way.

“The laboratory is run by Ms Theresa Van Jaarsveldt (clinical practice co-ordinator)  and a team of clinical practice instructors who are in the process of preparing the laboratory to ensure that students are able to obtain the practical training, yet maintain all the physical distancing required to ensure safety.”

One of the alternate methods of teaching is making videos of laboratory procedures taking place in a real diagnostic laboratory.

“These would also include videos for the third-years in which students can get an idea of how a busy medical laboratory operates. The making of the videos will be driven by our clinical practice instructors in partnership with the NHLS who have agreed to facilitate these in their laboratories.” 

Davison stated that once the videos have been completed it will be shared with other universities in order for them to supplement their Clinical Practice training.

“It is really heartening to experience how everyone, both in the higher education institutions and the employer sector, has pulled together in such a positive way. Everyone has been willing to assist and make sure that our final years complete the year. I am really positive that we will complete the academic year,” she stated. 

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.