Spring 2024


somerset hospital
Somerset Hospital

South Africa is a country with a turbulent history, with resultant large inequalities in wealth, education, and health. However, despite the challenges it faces, it has developed significant expertise in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, particularly in addressing TB and HIV. Cape Town is the provincial capital of the Western Cape, with a population of approximately 1.6 million inhabitants. English, Xhosa, and Afrikaans are the three most commonly spoken languages in Cape Town. According to national policy, public health care is provided along a tiered referral system. Primary care clinics provide access points to health services, with more complicated conditions being referred to secondary level hospitals.

Somerset Hospital in Cape Town is a major affiliated teaching hospital of the University of Cape Town School of Medicine. GHP is pleased to offer clinical rotations in Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, and Obstetrics & Gynecology at Somerset Hospital in the spring of 2024. With these rotations, students often perform blood draws and start IVs, and become more skilled in these areas.

Drs. Kelechi Okpara '23, Alex Vesling '23, and Lauren Textor '23 reflect on their MS4 global health clinical rotation in Cape Town, South Africa.

DGSOM graduates, Michelle Shu '23, Michael Rothberg '23, and Evelyn Shen '23, in front of Somerset Hospital

Students care for a wide range of patients, including those presenting with common opportunistic infections associated with HIV (i.e., tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis). Supervision of UCLA medical students is by senior medical staff on site, and students work alongside the equivalent of residents and medical students from the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The rotation has been developed with formal goals and objectives. We are seeking students with an interest in caring for underserved populations, and those with enthusiasm for learning more about global health, infectious diseases, and health care delivery in resource poor settings. Students will be expected to demonstrate the highest level of maturity, professionalism, and cultural humility.


Students will receive roundtrip airfare and $1,000 of additional support for the South Africa clinical rotation. These funds will offset the costs of in-country accommodation and food. Students will need to cover the remaining expenses from other funds, as the cost of this rotation will likely exceed the amount provided by GHP.

Interviews for this elective will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2023, and limited time window(s) after September 9th. Students selected for this rotation are required to participate in a mandatory full-day pre-departure training program in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 10, 2024. Upon return home from South Africa, students will be expected to provide feedback through written evaluations and to participate in a mandatory lunchtime feedback session on Thursday, May 30, 2024. Separate from this, students will be asked to attend a site-specific debrief to be arranged upon return from South Africa and prior to graduation.

Rotation dates for this elective have been confirmed. Students applying to this three-week elective must be able to commit to this elective from April 8, 2024, through April 26, 2024. Note that an April 8 start date will require departure from the U.S. by April 6, 2024, at the latest.

Questions regarding this rotation should be directed to Dr. Traci Wells at TWells@mednet.ucla.edu.

Map of Cape Town, South Africa