The Patient Partner Programme, which you can read more about here, is underpinned and guided by a collaborative approach. So, just as we have patient partners, so too do we have staff and student partners. Working in partnership with students is particularly important to this project, as ultimately our goal is to develop an educational programme for students in healthcare professions to help them advance their understanding and abilities regarding intercultural communication.

This collaborative approach is also significant within the South African context, where the Patient Partner Programme is based. In South Africa, higher education is currently experiencing an urgent call for decoloniality. Although South Africa has long since been politically decolonised, many of our institutional practices are still heavily influenced by the ideology of our colonial past. One of the most important ways that we can make changes in this regard, is by rethinking our approach to education; Africans educating Africans for Africa in Africa. And, in order to do this, we recognise the fundamental importance of collaborating with our students.

It is thus with great pleasure, that we would like to introduce you to the Patient Partner Programme’s first four undergraduate student partners.

All four of our student partners are 2nd year MBChB students in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town.


Sipho plays the alto saxaphone

Sipho Nderya really values a life-long approach to learning and, in fact, it was this that first attached him to the medical profession. “I also like the fact that health professionals are able to see the positive effects of their work with patients, and that these effects affect a much great group of people.” Sipho became interested in the Patient Partner Programme because of the opportunities it offered him to engage in research as such an early stage of his academic career. “I am also excited to improve my communication skills, as I believe it will make me a better healthcare professional. The opportunity to be part of changing the communication curriculum was also very exciting.”

Kanyisa is a family girl, who will tell you she loves her family more than anything on earth.


Kanyisa Tutshana followed her heart into medicine as a way to combine two of her great passions; science, and interacting with, and helping people. “I was attracted to the Patient Partner Programme by the huge impact it will have on the way future doctors will be trained.” Kanyisa was also eager for the opportunity to get to know people from different backgrounds.


Themba is a BIG Chelsea fan, but enjoys playing rugby more than football

Themba Ndovi, the son of two doctors, was destined for medicine. “I grew up in the environment, and my mother often used to take me along with her on night shifts and theatre calls and allowed me to watched minor procedures.” As he grew, so did his interest in medicine. “I decided to study medicine because of the joy I saw on my mother’s patient’s faces after she treated them.” Themba was drawn to the Patient Partner Programme as an opportunity to learn about other people’s cultures and practices, as well as the chance to work with international partners, and interact on a personal level with the patient partners.

Nazneen loves the arts, especially debating, monologues and acting in plays


Nazneen Pilodia always knew that medicine was the only career choice for her. “My father is a doctor and I’ve been exposed to the field since I can remember, so to me, it just felt right.”. She considers herself to be a ‘people’s person’ and loves interacting with others. “I am passionate about lending a helping hand whenever possible. I believe that through medicine I am able to incorporate my fascination with the human body with being philanthropic, in a thrilling and inspiring way.” Nazneen was attached to the Patient Partner Programme because of the opportunity to physically interact with various people from different walks of life, in their environments. “I found the fact that the programme was not only confined to a South African context, but to European standards as well, to be very interesting.”


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