South African Journal of Surgery
On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361
BACKGROUND: The large-scale migration of doctors, including surgeons, from South Africa, has had a major impact on healthcare resources in this country. Although previous studies have suggested that the University of Cape Town (UCT) is of the main institution contributing to this "brain drain", the extent of the problem has not been documented previously. The aim of this study was to investigate where UCT trained surgical registrars go after completing their training. METHOD: General surgery registrars who trained at UCT and who wrote and passed the FCS final examination between 1992 and 2011 were included in the study. The data for this study were obtained from the examinations office of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. The number of registrars writing and passing the final examination, the number of registrars who went overseas, the number of registrars in private practice, and the number of registrars in subspecialist practice, were recorded. RESULTS: A total of 102 UCT-trained registrars wrote and passed the FCS final examination during the study period. Only 13% of the South African UCT-trained registrars left the country. Only 31% of the registrars who remained in South Africa went into private practice. A large proportion of the UCT-trained registrars (43%) elected to subspecialise. CONCLUSION: "Brain drain" with respect to UCT-trained surgical registrars was not as extensive as anticipated.