Burch makes history in the Department of Medicine

04 March 2008 | Story by Helen Théron

Professor Vanessa Burch has succeeded Professor Solly Benatar, becoming the first woman to hold an established chair in the Department of Medicine.

Burch completed her MBChB degree at Wits University and her specialist training at UCT. She was awarded a Fellowship of the College of Physicians in 1994 and in 1997 obtained an MMed from UCT. She has a PhD from Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

After completing her registrar training in 1994, Burch worked as a junior consultant from 1995 to1997, and as a research fellow from 1997 to 2001. She has been a senior consultant in the department since 2002.

Winner of a Distinguished Teacher Award in 2004, Burch now co-ordinates clinical services across the academic teaching platform at the Groote Schuur Hospital teaching complex. She will work closely with clinical staff in Level 2 hospitals in the metropole and will co-ordinate all the department's undergraduate and postgraduate clinical teaching activities.

"It is also my mandate to develop staff of quality and relevance, and provide leadership with regard to issues of diversity, transformation and equity," Burch said. "The most significant challenge of the post is to strengthen the clinical teaching and service platform in collaboration with the provincial health services in difficult fiscal times."

One of the tasks she's looking forward to is developing clinical learning sites within the district health care system, sites that adequately prepare students for work in very challenging clinical settings. Burch is also dedicated to developing the profile of senior women in medicine at both teaching and clinical service levels.

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