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A perspective from possibly the first South African to complete the degree.

I thought it only appropriate for me to write an open letter of appreciation and perspective that could reach the Edinburgh community and possibly beyond. By means of an introduction, I am Chris Evans, a urologist in South Africa. It’s a country of many contradictions but for the most I have an immense love and sense of belonging in this crazy place. My postgraduate training in urology was tough, due in part to the disparity between specialists in public health (where training posts are available) and private health; and the management and economic disadvantage that the public health system is run under. We do, however, have quite a few high calibre local urologists that do hold up the figurative torch burning brightly. I have always enjoyed academics and ensured that I studied hard (which is easy when you are in the greatest field on the planet, urology!), took every opportunity to assist, observe and operate. My training moulded me into a competent urologist, although I was craving a little more. What I got was more…

Most urologists, when they have completed their specialisation, move into the private sector, get a fancy new car and aside from the few congresses, never go through a serious studying period again. I, however, wanted to chart my own course and gain more in terms of my evidence-based approach, critical thinking and decision making. Ultimately to grow into a better clinician and improve my academic writing and reading. To say that my experience through the ChM Urology online degree was brilliant, would be an understatement.

It was tough. Do not think for a moment that anything but diligence and commitment is required. It demands a lot to get it done, and get it done properly. I settled into an early rhythm on discussion/ assignment boards. Due to the structure of the course (and possibly the high cost when converting to pounds from rands), this was an imperative. With 5 discussion boards running simultaneously, I ensured that at least one question, interaction per evening was maintained with great interaction from my fellow colleagues and the moderators. This would invariably mean 1 – 2 hours of consistent work per day, but often would run into post-midnight studying and writing.

The moderators were and are world class! I really appreciated having access to such thoughtful, encouraging, critical and leading urologists. My interactions, even when I felt that critique was possibly a bit unfounded, invariably led me to dissecting my assumptions and gaining a better understanding of the many topics covered. To think that the moderators are running their own clinics, completing busy theatre lists, completing research undertakings and all other duties that invariable keep most specialists busy, puts into context the awesome professionals they are.

The fact that one also enters this course from a diverse group of international postgraduate students, only adds to the perspectives and insights gained on this course. A big word of thanks to the ChM Urology tutor, Louise Buckley, who not only provided a wealth of expertise in improving academic writing but was brilliant at calming nerves and keeping all up to date with the information which was of need-to-know.

The idea of an online course such as the ChM Urology degree is of great importance, now more than ever. To integrate learning on a global platform and gain a worldly perspective can only benefit our collective standard of understanding and care. The way the world is changing does mean that education from prestigious institutions, of which the University of Edinburgh is undoubtedly one of, is increasingly more accessible. I have found immense value in undertaking this degree and consider myself extremely fortunate to have been associated with the University of Edinburgh albeit from over 10 000km away and through a VPN.

Thank you, Eddy, for what has been one of the greatest two years of personal growth. I really appreciate having been part of this great community.

Dr Chris Evans
South Africa

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