“Expect to have a life-changing experience.” With these words Professor Jimmy Volmink, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University welcomed approximately 477 new first-year medicine and health sciences students at the faculty’s annual welcoming ceremony recently held at the university’s Tygerberg campus.
“By joining this flagship faculty, you are commencing a transformative journey that will continue long after you’ve completed your studies.” Volmink emphasized that students should expect to be called upon to reflect on who they are, and on what they can become. “Expect to be continually challenged to think about how you can related more positively to your peers and the world around you and what you can do to make the world a better place,” he said.
The FMHS officially reintroduced the Bachelor of Nursing programme in 2019, which sees 55 new nursing students join its fold. “It has been 15 years since we’ve trained undergraduate nurses at Stellenbosch University so it is very special for us to have this programme back in our faculty and we are truly delighted about this,” said Volmink.
Approximately 254 new students enrolled for the MB,ChB (medical) programme while 52 students are starting their BSc in Physiotherapy. A further 26 students would be commencing a BSc in Dietetics while 54 are commencing a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and 36 start a Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy.
This year also sees the addition of the university’s Department of Sport Science (previously part of the Faculty of Education) and the Institute for Lifecourse Health Research (formally housed within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences).
Volmink furthermore told students and their parents about the faculty’s pioneering move to become the first Smoke-and Tobacco-free campus in South Africa, which was greeted with enthusiastic applause. “We decided to do this because tobacco is a leading preventable cause of premature death in South Africa and the world. And if we are to counsel our patients to stop smoking, we ought to be modelling the correct behavior by not smoking ourselves.”
He reminded new students to ‘dream big, have fun and stay focused’. “Importantly, please do not hesitate to reach out for help when you need it. We provide support for academic, psychological, financial and other needs. We look forward to accompanying you on your journey.”
Ms Ntsako Mtileni, vice-chairperson of the Tygerberg Student Representative Council, who spoke on behalf of chairperson Mr John Kachoko, urged newcomers to be true to themselves and do what makes them happy.’ “If you enjoy jogging early in the morning, going to gym, reading sci-fi novels, playing a musical instrument or painting, then just do it. Your mental health and wellbeing is something that can be overlooked at times, but in trying to acquire a degree, mental wellbeing is probably the most sought-after commodity there is.”
Dr Therese Fish, Vice-Dean: Clinical Services and Social Impact at the FMHS, introduced the faculty’s medicine and health sciences commitment – which had been introduced for the first time in 2018 – to new students and their families. The commitment, which takes the form of a commencement oath for health professionals, was read in all 11 languages including sign language.
Source Stellenbosch University