Centre for Health Professions Education
Exploring the development and application of a responsive curriculum framework for healthcare professionals in South Africa
Stellenbosch University (SU)
Professor Susan van Schalkwyk, M Phil, PhD., is Professor in Health Professions Education and Director of the Centre for Health Professions Education in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Apart from her supervision of doctoral and Masters’ students, she has more than 16 years’ experience in academic staff development, with a focus on doctoral education, strengthening postgraduate studies, and developing academic writing. In this regard, she has facilitated workshops and retreats across South and sub-Saharan Africa. Much of her work is informed by the principles of transformative learning theory, with current projects intentionally looking to adopt a social justice agenda. Susan is a B-rated researcher with the South African National Research Foundation, a Stellenbosch University Teaching Fellow, and a Fellow of the international Association of Medical Educationalists (AMEE). She serves on the AMEE Faculty Development Committee, and the editorial boards of the African Journal of Health Professions Education, Medical Education and Advances in Health Sciences Education. She has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.
Cecilia Jacobs has worked in Higher Education for the past 29 years. She is currently an Associate Professor in Higher Education at the Centre for Health Professions Education at the University of Stellenbosch. Prior to that she was the director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Stellenbosch. Her field of expertise is Higher Education Studies, and she has worked predominantly in the area of the professionalisation of academics for their teaching role. Her work has been of a transdisciplinary nature and she has always conducted research at the intersection of her field and other disciplines, such as Engineering, and currently Health Sciences. Current research focuses on the question of knowledge and the importance of its centrality in debates on higher education teaching and learning
Julia Blitz (BSc; MB BCh; M Prax Med; FCFP; PGCHE; FRCGP[Hon]; PhD), Professor in Health Professions Education, is a family physician by clinical background. She started exploring academic aspects of higher education whilst working in Family Medicine at the University of Pretoria (1997 – 2008) and went on to complete a PhD in Health Professions Education in the Centre for Health Professions Education in 2018. She teaches on the MPhil, is involved in the supervision of Masters students' research and is looking forward to supervising PhD students. Her interests include selection into undergraduate health professions programmes, faculty development (especially for clinical teachers) and assessment.
Dr Mariette Volschenk manages the learning technologies team at the Centre for Health Professions Education. She is also a lecturer on the MPhil in Health Professions Education programme. Her key focus areas include learning experience design on the online platform and postgraduate teaching and supervision (MPhil in HPE). Mariette holds a primary degree in Nursing and Midwifery with specialist qualifications in Neonatal Critical Care and Nursing Education. She was the first candidate to complete the MPhil in Health Sciences Education programme at SU (2009, Cum Laude). She recently completed her PhD in Health Professions Education studies at the CHPE. Her research topic focuses on the identity trajectories of health professionals involved in master's level health professions education studies.
Anthea Hansen recently joined the CHPE as a lecturer and PhD candidate in Health Professions Education studies at the CHPE. She holds an MPhil in Disability Studies and BSc Audiology. Her interests are in the areas of social justice through education, transformative learning, interprofessional education and collaborative practice, child health and disability studies. Her PhD research topic focuses on the undergraduate medical students experiences of social responsiveness in the curriculum.
University of the Western Cape (UWC)
Professor Marianne Unger is a passionate senior lecturer in physiotherapy offering 25 years’ experience, having served and chaired various committees including undergraduate program- and research ethics committees. I have a PhD degree in pediatric neurology with a special interest in better understanding movement strategies for improved interventions in children with cerebral palsy. Concerned about future physiotherapy practice and education I furthered my training and have recently completed a teaching & learning fellowship. I drive our programs curriculum renewal and am excited to discover new and innovative methodologies to better students’ experiences while preparing them for the changing scope of future physiotherapy practice.
Professor Michael Rowe (UWC liaison)
Dr Michael Rowe is an Associate Professor in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom. He conducts research into the use of digital technologies in the classroom and their influence on teacher and student relationships as part of teaching and learning practice. His PhD evaluated the use of technology-mediated practices for clinical education, and led to the development of design principles for blended learning environments in the health professions. His current research interests include the role of critical pedagogy in practice, as well as the increasing potential of artificial intelligence in higher and professional education. He is the editor of OpenPhysio, an open access journal with a focus on physiotherapy education, which aims to challenge traditional assumptions about academic publication and research dissemination. He is also the co-founder of In Beta, an international community of practice that aims to initiate conversations around the practice-based experiences of physiotherapy educators from around the world.
Dr Lucia Hess-April BSc OT (UWC); MPH (UWC); PG Diploma in Disability Studies (UCT), PhD (UWC). Lucia is a senior lecturer and learning & teaching co-ordinator in the occupational therapy Department, Faculty of Community & Health Sciences at UWC. She has been involved in the development of the occupational curriculum focusing on social responsiveness and teaches an undergraduate (honours) course that focuses on a political practice of occupational therapy that integrates community development, critical disability studies and community-based rehabilitation as key tenets of the curriculum. She serves on the university curriculum transformation task team and is also responsible for postgraduate supervision. Her research focuses on the integration of critical literacies, critical disability studies, and disability inclusive development into the curriculum and into inter-professional education and practice.
Dr Kristian Leisegang is the Director of the School of Natural Medicine (SoNM), University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. His learning and teaching focus include pathology, general medicine and clinical diagnostics, alongside research methodology, to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Dr Leisegang obtained a PhD in medical bioscience in 2014, and has continued research through post-graduate students, externally funded research projects and international collaborations. His research focuses are on obesity, metabolic syndrome and related phenomena such as insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress within the context of male (patho) physiology and reproductive (dys)function. This extends to investigating various nutritional supplements, antioxidants and medicinal herbs as novel treatment strategies within this context. Furthermore, Dr Leisegang obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Higher Education 2015, and increasingly engages with the scholarship of learning and teaching in this context. Further information can be found at
Research Gate and
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
Professor Jo-Celene de Jongh
Dr Athena Pedro
Dr Lizel Hudson (CPUT liaison) is the Work-Integrated Learning and Language Coordinator in the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Her research interests include health professions education and in particular knowledge-building in simulated learning environments. Her doctoral studies focused on understanding threshold concepts in professional education. Lizel is currently participating in the Teaching Advancements at University Fellowships Programme where her project focuses on smart student engagement and a holistic experience towards student success. Professional affiliations include National Council member of the Southern African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) and Evaluator for the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA). She loves being outdoors and spending time with her family.
Professor Penelope Engel-Hills retired as Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in January 2021 and is now appointed in the position of an Adjunct Professor. She has throughout her career occupied intersecting roles as a health care practitioner, educator and researcher. Penelope currently holds ministerial appointments on the National Health Research Ethics Council and the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is an active researcher with a C2 National Research Foundation (NRF) rating. Penelope has graduated and continues to supervise a number of postgraduate students and has publications that represent her years of research in health sciences and professional education.
Sefako Makgatho University (SMU)
Professor Florence (Polly) Davidson
Dr Kathleen Naidoo
Gerda Botha (SMU liaison, MBChB Programme)
Lucille Crafford (BPharm Programme) is a pharmacist, with a specialization in Clinical Pharmacy and has worked as a lecturer for 7 years post MScMed graduation. She is currently pursuing a joint-PhD in medical education, through Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (VUmc) and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) with a focus on the motivation and the education of clinical pharmacists.
University of the Witwatersrand (WITS)
Professor Richard Cooke (WITS liaison) is the Academic Head of Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He is also the Director of the Faculty's Centre for Rural Health. After an early career in finance and project management, Professor Cooke switched to Medicine, qualifying as a specialist Family Physician. He forged a passion for primary and rural health care during an 8-year stint as the Clinical Manager of Madwaleni Hospital in the Eastern Cape. Joining Wits in 2011, he now chairs the Curriculum Review Committee responsible for the final two years of the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP), as well as tasked with the directorship of the Wits Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro (NMFC) Collaboration Programme. He supervises the training and research-related activities of students within the GEMP, Clinical Associate, Public Health and Health Systems Sciences programmes, at an undergraduate and/or postgraduate level. Prof Cooke is an examiner for the Fellowship of the College of Family Physicians (FCFP) within the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. He is a member of the NMFC National Curriculum Working Group, and serves on the NMFC Ministerial Task Team. He is a Director of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa. His personal interests include running ultra-marathons.
Dr Joel Francis is an epidemiologist, and senior researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, and Primary Care. He is rated at the NRF-C2 level by the South Africa National Research Foundation (NRF). Prior to joining WITS, he worked as a research scientist with the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania and a research fellow with the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University. He holds a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree (equivalent to MBBCh) from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, an MSc in Epidemiology from Harvard University, USA, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of London (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), UK. His primary areas of research interests include Alcohol and Other Drug Use, HIV, Mental Health, Implementation Science and Epidemiology. At WITS, he engages in 1) Research supervision and mentorship of undergraduate, Master, and PhD candidates in Epidemiology, Family Medicine, and Public Health and 2) Health research. He serves on the editorial boards of three BMC series journals (BMC- Public Health & BMC – Global Health Research and Policy, BMC -Infectious Diseases), the PLOS One journal, a statistical editor for the Health Policy and Planning Journal, an editorial advisor at the BMJ Open journal and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. He also serves as a Board Member of the International Confederation of ATOD Research Associations (ICARA).
Ms. Pumla Sodo
Dr Carol Hartmann
Ms. Aviwe Mgobozi
University of Cape Town (UCT)
A/ Professor Niri Naidoo (UCT liaison)
Professor Steve Reid
Dr Lakshini McNamee
Dr Kerrin Begg
Professor Francois Cilliers