Postgraduate Diploma

in Rural Medicine

The programme is intended to provide doctors and eligible clinical associates wishing to work in rural district hospitals in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa with the necessary knowledge, skills and approaches for practice in these contexts. After completing the course, you will have the clinical skills to manage a range of patients at a rural district hospital with limited specialist support, be able to work with the local healthcare team and maintain effective healthcare delivery systems, understand appropriate public health interventions and participate in community-oriented primary healthcare and use reflective practice to enable continuous development as a rural health practitioner.

This Postgraduate Diploma is presented by the Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, based on the Stellenbosch University Worcester campus.

The programme is offered in hybrid mode, for flexible learning and aims to support the development of clinical skills for rural generalists through collaboration with local mentors in the student’s context.

The diploma may also

  • contribute to an increase in access to quality clinical care for rural and underserved communities on the African continent, including those affected by humanitarian crises.
  • transform the student experience through networked and collaborative teaching and learning.
  • challenge participants with real case studies throughout the programme to stimulate critical thinking and promote evidence-based decision-making.
  • enable medical doctors to work autonomously in remote rural environments, by focussing on both clinical and systemic problem solving in resource limited scenarios

The postgraduate diploma is structured over an 18- month period and is valued at 120 credits.

It consists of 4 modules

  • Module 1: Clinical Skills for District Hospitals
  • Module 2: Major Infectious Disease Challenges
  • Module 3: Delivering Healthcare in Rural Communities
  • Module 4: Clinical Governance in District Health Services

The programme has one contact session per year. The major clinical module, Clinical Skills for District Hospitals, focuses on high-risk areas (the emergency centre, the labour ward, and the operating theatre). To fulfil the clinical requirements the module is presented as an intensive, structured twelve-month programme at a regional or rural district hospital where there is appropriate supervision by experienced practitioners who qualify to be accredited with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Stellenbosch University.

Photograph by Lindsay-Michelle Meyer, Stellenbosch University


First Year

Clinical Skills in District Hospitals – 55 Credits

This module involves the student being exposed experientially to 3 areas that are of high risk in the district hospital context, viz. the emergency centre, the labour ward and the operating theatre, under the supervision. While rotating through these areas, students will be required to ensure they meet the level of competency required for generalist rural hospital practice in terms of a prescribed set of skills across the domains of emergency medicine, orthopaedics & trauma, surgery, internal medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics, and anaesthetics. Weekly seminars will facilitate the integration and consolidation of learning.

Major Infectious Disease Challenges – 15 Credits

This online module is intended to ensure that students have a comprehensive basic understanding of the major infectious disease challenges they are likely to encounter in a rural district hospital with a focus on HIV/AIDS and TB. The module covers an overview of the epidemiology and diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and TB, anti-retroviral therapy, prevention of-mother-to-child transmission of HIV, management of TB in adults and children, reducing and preventing the burden of TB, and an overview of other common infectious diseases in Africa, with a focus on Southern Africa and on approaches to the diagnosis and management of those likely to be encountered in rural district hospitals, with specific emphasis on malaria. Learning is supplemented by face-to-face case-based seminar discussions.

Delivering Healthcare in Rural Communities – 25 Credits

This module will review the unique features of delivering healthcare in rural communities, including a discussion of the concept of rurality and the geographic, social, cultural and economic context of rural people. Students will learn about the specific needs of rural patients and how to provide them with effective services, considering factors such as access to care, medical referrals, culture, language and local community structures. The module will also explore the essentials of community health and epidemiology, including the principles of community-oriented primary care. This will include the design of a primary care intervention based on the specific health needs of their local rural community.

Second Year

Clinical Governance in District Health Services – 25 Credits

This module will consist of formal study, supervised application and reflective practice on effective clinical governance in district health services. Through online learning, students will study the essentials of the structure and management of district health services and core components of clinical governance such as evidence-based care, audit and quality improvement. Whilst participating in the clinical governance structures of the rural hospital where they are placed, the students will develop and implement their own quality improvement project on which they will receive feedback from their peers and supervisor. The module will also stimulate the thinking of students on effective leadership and management in the district health setting and establish a culture of reflective practice for the rural doctor.

Estimated Study costs

Application fee (if applicable) R 100.00
Selection fee (if applicable) R 0.00
Student card R 80.00
* Sundry fee 7091001 RURAL MEDICINE (G101S) R 330.00
* Tuition fee (14174775) Clin skills for district hosp R 18,272.00
* Tuition fee (14175775) Major infect disease challeng R 4,984.00
* Tuition fee (14178775) Clin gov district health serv R 8,306.00
* Tuition fee (14179775) Deliv health care rur comm R 8,306.00
* Total Study Fees only R 40,198.00
Total R 40,378.00
Minimum amount payable on/prior to registration R 11,759.00

*2023 fees

International students must contact the international office for student fees

Apply now for 2025


Programme Leader
Ms Amanda A Msindwana
023 346 7802

Programme Administrator
Ms Lindsay-Michelle Meyer
021 938 9873

Admission and selection criteria

Applicants must provide the following for review:

    • Proof of MBChB or equivalent medical degree with at least two years’ post-qualification practical experience or hold a bachelor’s degree (e.g. BCMP or equivalent) with at least five years post-qualification practical experience for application of Recognition of Prior Learning.
      Community Service doctors and qualifying clinical associates are eligible for the programme.
    • An up-to-date CV
    • A personal motivation letter
    • Completed Departmental form available on application portal
    • An up-to-date CV
    • A letter of motivation from the host facility
    • Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa
    • Proof of Professional Registration
    • Copy of passport, Identity document and International visa for International applicants

Closing Date:

International applications close on 31 August 2024
South African applications close on 30 September 2024

View our “How to Apply” guide

Strengthen your confidence & capability as a rural doctor

Presented by Stellenbosch University

Photos by Karin Schermbrucker property of Stellenbosch University and