The Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology launched its first Professional Oath ceremony for all Durban University of Technology (DUT) alumni of the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree.
The alumni took their Professional Oath pledging their commitment and making a solemn promise to abide by this oath, and in doing so they swear that they shall serve all fellow human beings without discrimination by race, gender, ethnicity, or creed; and always uphold the name of their university. The prestigious event took place at the Ritson Hall on the Ritson campus and online, via Microsoft Teams, on Saturday, 29 July 2023.
The aim of the Professional Oath ceremony is to ensure and to instil the ethical values that will contribute to the highest commitment of care, aligned with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) guidelines, for independent practice.
The Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology at DUT offers two programmes; namely, the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Clinical Technology and Bachelor of Health Sciences: Medical Laboratory Science. Both of these programmes are four-year, professional degrees. These programmes entail clinical practice training that occurs in collaboration with DUT committed and dedicated clinical training instructors and supervisors from both private and governmental health institutions. Upon completion of the qualification the graduates register with the HPCSA for their independent practice as clinical technologists and medical laboratory scientists.
The programme director was Dr Mzwandile Khumalo. He gave an overview of all the speakers and indicated when the official, first Professional Oath ceremony would take place, much to the delight of the excited, former students and guests.
The Head of Department, Dr Joyce Nonhlanhla Mbatha spoke of the DUT values and principles, explaining that she loves all of them but as the Biomedical and Clinical Technology Department, they want to highlight all of them but with a special emphasis on the four which are professionalism, accountability, integrity and respect.
“If you don’t have those living values and principles, it means that you are not a DUT graduate and also you are not Biomedical and Clinical Technology Department graduates,” she commented.
She then went on to explain about the two professional degrees which are the Clinical Technology PHSC in Clinical Technology which started in 2017 and PhD in Medical Laboratory Science which had begun in 2018, also sharing that the department had three Clinical Psychology graduations and two Medical Laboratory Science graduations.
“We are actually launching this professional oath because this is our first ceremony where we are having our graduates who are now with the HPCSA,” she said.
Dr Mbatha welcomed all the training units, both in private and public sector institutions, and the Medical Laboratory Science trainers who have come and graced the ceremony with their presence.
Following her welcome, DUT’s Cooperative Education Director, Dr Themba Msukwini urged former students to make their faculty and DUT proud in their place of work and in their daily lives.
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Gugu Mchunu, was DUT’s Dr Pravita Pillay, who was also celebrating her birthday along with this momentous occasion.
She gave a special welcome to everyone, including the guest speaker from HPCSA, Ms Akhona Vuma, Dr Joyce Nonhlanhla Mbatha, Dr Madurai and Mr Krish Preethraj, Mr Shakeel Ori, Prof Jameela Adam, and other guests.
“I see a lot of you here in suits and in heels and I can see as a person that you have changed and you have transformed quite a bit,” she said. She then went on to give an overview of the faculty and the departments which consists of Biomedical and Clinical Technology programmes which are situated on both Durban and Pietermaritzburg campuses.
“I know more specifically coming from the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology that the staff take a special interest in the holistic wealth and work hard towards student support, and some of the attributes that they are portraying show that they are and living out our principles and the lived values of our ENVISION2030,” she said.
She expressed the faculty’s excitement to have alumni from the Clinical Technology and Medical Technology, which she added are well established and dynamic professions.
“So you know when you choose to become Medical Laboratory scientists and Clinical Technologists, there was something special in you that that made you choose these professions; and that you guys are making a huge impact to our healthcare system in general,” she added.
Without an further ado, Dr Sherilene Benjamin excitedly said it was time to honour the indispensable trailblazers who had laid the foundation for the future generations to accomplish new positions in the 21st century. She then introduced the first presenter, Dr Krish Preethraj. She mentioned that in 2000, he started a new procedure called cell saving, a process that washes shed blood during surgery and where red blood cells are harvested and reinfused to the patient to reduce or prevent transfusion.
Dr Benjamin relayed that in 2019 he became the first perfusionist in South Africa to be trained in the hyperthermic chemotherapy for different types of abdominal cancers and is still currently practicing all these therapies.
Dr Preethraj happily delved into some history of the early beginnings, when in 1957, cardiothoracic surgeons came in from Edinburgh to work and to do cardiothoracic surgery.
“So, in those days they would just open the chest, tie the lung up instead of the modern surgery with cautery, radio frequency surgery, and staples. They would just tie the piece of lung that was affected with the suture material, while in those days there were thick black rope and they would just leave it in the chest and come back a few days later and pull it out; and that was the beginning of a septic wound,” he explained.
He then indicated that as time went on there came a need for neurosurgical technologists and technicians. “So ethics was very important, how we spoke to people and how we did whatever procedure we had to do,” he echoed.
Moving on, giving her perspective on Laboratory Science was Dr Lorna Madurai, a lab scientific advisor of Lagos, Nigeria lab, scientific advisor for Best Care Lab India, Anantapur and research analyst for Viral Care Health Solutions. She is also part of the World Health Organisation for Geneva, working as a scientific advisor for Biomarker Studies.
Dr Madurai spoke of her journey at ML Sultan and the reason she had become a Medical Technologist, which is her passion.
“It was a route that I had to go because I had to get some kind of qualification after being kicked out of medical school. However, it was the most glorious event of my life,” she chuckled.
She indicated that there is absolutely everything in this country, South Africa, as far as technology, expertise, and coming from the roots of DUT, ML Sultan Technikon, she is really proud to be a technician as she calls herself.
“We as the lab persons are responsible for both the preanalytical and the analytical. It’s a circle that we complete,” she added.
Adding to her conversation was guest speaker, Ms Akhona Francina Vuma, who started as a medical technologist. Specialising in blood transfusion, she has more than 10 years serving in the medical technology profession, including private and public sector.
“You’ll be taking your professional oath, to ensure that you are aware of what you stepped into in your communities, the health facilities that you will be serving in the future, and the ones that you are serving now. Among you, will be those that will have an excellent career pace start, and then there will be those of you, who will have an excellent career acceleration. There will be those of you that will remain constant and those of course, that will have an excellent late career acceleration. All of these career paces have multiple factors that contribute to them that will be a story for another day, but whichever one you will be, embrace it with the understanding that life has a way of balancing itself out,” she said.
She further explained that one should never shy away from opportunities to develop one’s selves in one’s career, in one’s profession and in one’s specialisation. Ms Vuma explained that the HPCSA looked forward to the graduate’s energy. “We welcome your zeal to continually learn and apply. We eagerly eagerly on your innovative ideas. We welcome you all to the profession of Health Sciences. peace, health, long life and wealth to all of you,” she said.
After the exhilarating speech of Ms Vuma’s speech, the main event of the swearing and signing of the oath document then ensued with graduates beaming as they made their pledge. Graduates took the professional oath pledging their commitment and making a solemn promise to abide by this oath, and in doing so they swore that they shall serve all fellow human beings without discrimination by race, gender, ethnicity, or creed; and they also pledged to always uphold the name of their university.
Clinical technologist, Megan Borthwick said she thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony.
“It was a special ceremony as it bridges the end of our degree and the start of our professional careers. Even more so as we were unable to attend our graduation due to COVID,” she said.
The historic first oath ceremony then concluded with a vote of thanks from Dr Mbatha and former HOD, Dr Prakaschandra.
Pictured: Speakers at the first Oath ceremony.