Larry Chapman

Current Job: 
Community Service Medical Officer: working as a Medical Doctor in the fields of Emergency Medicine (New Somerset Hospital) and Family Medicine (Retreat Community Health Centre)
Use every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Previous job(s): 

Medical Intern: working as medical doctor at Tygerberg Hospital.

How I obtained my current position:

After completing 6 years of study, medical graduates are employed by the Department of Health and have to complete 2 years of medical internship and an additional year of community service. I am currently fulfilling my year of community service.

How my qualification relate to my work:

My knowledge and skills gained through studying and extensive practical experience majorly influence my day-to-day practise of Clinical Medicine.

Skills that have contributed to my success:

I pride myself on being an ambitious, thorough, dedicated, hard-working and compassionate person (and doctor). I have a hunger for knowledge and strive to positively benefit from every experience. I value the importance of a team. I reflect often and will always be an advocate for my patients. I have also furthered my theoretical and practical skills by completing courses in basic life support, basic surgical skills, emergency ECG, advanced cardiac life support, advanced trauma life support, advanced neonatal life support and paediatric advanced life support.

Day-to-day activities:

The day-to-day activities of a junior doctor are often endless. Days and nights are spent in hospitals in the service of patients. I see life and death on a daily basis. The scope of practice is huge. I can see and treat any of the following in a single day: gunshot wounds, stabbings, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, asthma attacks, acute psychosis, overdoses, tumours, motor vehicles crashes, pedestrian vehicle accidents, other blunt or penetrating trauma (usually to the head and chest), chronic hypertensives and diabetics, paediatric and neonatal emergencies, gynaecological and obstetric emergencies and many more medical and surgical conditions. The list is endless. The largest burden of disease is usually HIV- and TB-related.   

Best & most challenging parts of my job:

There are many challenges. Resources are limited. There is a huge patient load and most days turn into a mad rush to see and treat everyone to the best of my ability. We are hugely under-staffed. Safety in public hospitals is an ongoing concern. Working hours are long and there are times when I don’t see my family for days on end. There are times that I have been so tired that I have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Helplessly watching someone die in front of you is something that you never overcome and breaking bad news to a family is never easy.

That being said, there are many benefits to my job. I am able to fulfil my passion for helping others on a daily basis. I have formed life-long bonds with colleagues and friends. I assist people in their journey of healing and change their lives forever.

Involvement at UCT:

I was a member of SHAWCO Health for the majority of my studies and had the privilege of heading the Masiphumelele Clinic. I also travelled to the Eastern Cape to assist with clinics in remote rural villages. I was the Vice-President of the UCT Surgical Society and co-founder of the International Association of Student Surgical Societies. I was very involved with multiple published research papers and was able to fly around the country to present some of these papers. I play many sports and also play the drums.

Getting a competitive edge while at UCT:

Medical students should dedicate themselves to mastering the art of Medicine and developing themselves biopsychosocially. This does not translate into studying from a textbook every day and night. They should broaden their medical experience whilst at university by studying hard but also getting involved with societies and research and forming close bonds with their peers and teachers. They should find positive role models and mentors to guide them and always remember to use every situation as an opportunity to learn. They should know that one learns the most at the patients’ bedside and one should always remain humble.

Advice for graduates entering the world of work:

Use every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Ask questions. Challenge beliefs. Don’t be afraid of working hard and always strive for excellence!