Our ‘miracle train’, the Phelophepa has over the years produced shining stars that have gone on to make a mark for themselves through improving the quality of life for those they interact with. The Transnet Foundation’s flagship programme sees more than 1200 final year medical students through its practical or experiential programme.
Doctor Mandla Qoboshiyane, who joined Phelophepa as a resident dentist in 2006 is hailed by Dr Lynette Koetzee as one of the shining stars ever to step off the Transnet Foundation’s Phelophepa Train. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in dental surgery (B.Ch.D) at the University of the Western Cape in 2004, he worked for a period of two years as a community service dentist in Mkhondo in Mpumalanga before setting foot on the Foundation’s miracle train in 2006.
Dr Qoboshiyane, who has been working in private practice in Pinetown, KwaZulu Natal for the past six years says alleviating pain in patients brings him satisfaction, but working with people in pain is not joyful at all.
He says that the best advice he can impart to prospective students and current students serving on the train is that this opportunity will improve their clinical skills and thereby give them the required confidence in handling difficult cases.
The Natal based dental surgeon says that he personally learnt a lot on the Phelophepa. “I had an opportunity to improve my skills in managing different people in their various capacities. I also learnt a lot about conflict management as I had to be dictator, mediator and or arbitrator,” he says jokingly.
Dr Qoboshiyane says that the one thing that he enjoyed the most on the train was the travelling part, meeting and interacting with students from different institutions and also the experience of being in rural South Africa.
Asked if he feels there is a lot to be offered and learnt by students on the Phelophepa, he said indeed there was a lot to learn with students learning how to cope outside their comfort zones as some stations could prove to be extremely busy. So that teaches you to learn to efficiently operate under extreme pressure.
His final word of advice was that students should take the opportunity of working on the train because they are going to improve their clinical skills and thereby gain confidence at handling difficult cases.
“They will be meeting people from various backgrounds and this will help them tremendously improve their interpersonal skills and relationships,” he concludes.