Mediclinic’s focus on broadening learning opportunities

Posted on 24 August 2018

Mediclinic’s learnerships programmes benefit the community by providing the necessary training to people needing to pursue or develop a career. They also address shortages of qualified and specialist healthcare personnel across South Africa, placing talented employees on a career path dedicated to helping others.

In the past, these training programmes have focused on developing skills in nursing. Mediclinic became a registered teaching institution to address a shortage of nurses in South Africa and now trains more than a thousand nurses each year. Now, Mediclinic is actively expanding their training programmes to include a wider range of specialities and includes pharmacy assistants and paramedics.

“We have a wide range of courses available, across a spectrum of care,” says Avril Stroh, Training and Development General Manager: Mediclinic Southern Africa. “We encourage learners in Grade 12 to apply to come and train to become qualified as healthcare workers at our training centres.”

Mediclinic’s training programme has been in place since 1997 – when it received a few dozen learners in its first round of applications – and has grown rapidly.

Today, seven training centres are strategically placed around the country and are designed to bring people towards the facilities that need them most. “We adhere to strict equity targets so that we can give opportunities to all racial groups, and we pay close attention to outlying areas where there is a real scarcity of skills. We receive a huge number of applicants. For example, we typically bring in 200 first-year nurses, from about 14,000 total applications.”

From those, about 6,000 applicants will meet the requirements. Those are sent for psychometric testing, to test their capabilities and behavioural style, and the top candidates are selected from those who show they would be a good fit for the job. “If we find we need, say, 150 learners across the country, we will interview 300, and make our selection from that group,” says Stroh.

Plans are in place to expand these opportunities even further. “In the past, we would have had about 800 or 900 total learners in the system. Over the next few years, we would like to increase that number to about 1,800.”

Opportunities also exist for staff members within the company who wish to upskill themselves or embark on new career paths. “Whereas our nurses largely come from outside the company, our pharmacy assistants’ programme usually recruits from within Mediclinic,” Stroh says. “These learners are usually in administrative roles or fairly low-level positions, and we encourage them to apply with us to become assistants in our pharmacies.” There, they will learn new skills and have the opportunity to take their careers in new directions.

Recently, Mediclinic’s training centre has adopted a long-term plan to develop paramedics, in association with ER24, by providing training towards the new Diploma in Emergency Medical Care. “We can accommodate about 15 paramedics a year, and we have advertised these positions on social media,” Stroh says. “These learners can come directly out of matric and will need to have done mathematics and one science subject. They will also need to be computer literate.”

Because the basic nursing programme is registered as learnerships, they are not required to pay to complete the course, but they are contracted to work at a Mediclinic hospital for a period commensurate with their training. “With paramedics, it works slightly differently,” Stroh says. “We provided the Diploma in Emergency Medical Care to some learners from the Department of Health, and they won’t be required to work for ER24, of course. We also offer bursaries, and those are contracted to us. Then we have private students, who pay for their own training.”

Mediclinic’s training programmes are helping to address shortages of skilled healthcare workers in South Africa, but the work is far from over and there is always room for more qualified staff. “In the beginning, we had a shortage of registered nurses, now we find we need more enrolled nurses”. This means people are coming in and training and working their way up, as per their expertise – which is great for them and good news for our patients, too.”

In addition, the organisation has introduced learnerships for administration staff and ER24 contact centre staff. The company also offers apprenticeship opportunities. Several learners and interns from different colleges and training providers are being accommodated for work integrated learning opportunities. These learners are following a mixture of administration and HR related courses.

Mediclinic has recently reviewed its management and leadership development strategy, to look for new ways in which the organisation can upskill managers and also prepare persons for future managerial roles. This strategy includes identifying potential for the future. “When we assess whether people are suited to the job we are screening for we also assess whether they are capable of fulfilling responsibilities above and beyond their current positions.”

Transformation is a priority for Mediclinic, says Stroh. “The job market is always tough: you need to get experience somewhere and the organisation needs to help where possible. We also want to create more diverse development opportunities for people in Mediclinic hospitals – to identify those people who show potential for growth, right from their first day. We can then target them for training in specific areas, and grow them into senior positions.” The organisation will be introducing a junior level management learnership towards the end of 2018.

For more information on training opportunities at Mediclinic, and to browse the full range of courses, visit http://www.mediclinic.co.za/Careers

Published in Business