How To Be A Nigerian Doctor In South Africa: HPCSA, ECFMG, EPIC & What You Should Know

Nigerian doctors in South Africa are governed by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), a professional body for health care practitioners in South Africa. HPCSA is registered as a statutory professional body with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA).

In 2018, it was confirmed that there were 680 Nigerian doctors in South Africa that were registered with HPCSA (as of 2 July 2018).

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The mandate of The HPCSA

HPCSA guides and regulates all health professions in South Africa. It’s commissioned to manage and oversee registration, education and training, professional conduct and ethical behavior, ensuring continuing professional development, and fostering compliance with healthcare standards among health professionals across South Africa.

Nigerian doctors in South Africa

NOTE: All individuals who practise any of the health care professions incorporated within the scope of the HPCSA are obliged by the Health Professions Act No. 56 of 1974 to register with the Council. Failure to do so constitutes a criminal offense.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa confers the following designations:

  • Medical Practitioners
  • Dental Practitioners
  • Psychologists
  • Oral Hygienists
  • Dental Assistants
  • Dental Therapists

Internships and community service for Nigerian doctors in South Africa

Doctors trained abroad need to apply to the HPCSA for registration. Some may be exempted from a board exam, while others may have to write the exam. The purpose of board examinations is to measure the academic and clinical competence and capacity of foreign qualified practitioners (Nigerian doctors in South Africa qualified in Nigeria) wishing to enter the profession for community service, supervised practice or independent practice. They may subsequently be required to perform supervised practice for up to two years or internship. The duration and domains of internship training or supervised practice for foreign qualified practitioners will be determined by HPCSA based on norms set for the same. After successful completion of two years internship, the doctor will be registered by the HPCSA as a doctor and will need to complete a year in the service of the Department of Health (DoH). This is known as community service. The DoH determines all community service posts and no supervision is required. All healthcare professionals, including dieticians, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, are obliged to complete one year of community service (HPCSA Bulletin, 2017).

Verification of Qualifications of Nigerian Doctors in South Africa

The Health Professions Council of South Africa uses the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for verification of medical credentials of international practitioners (e.g. Nigerian doctors in South Africa) applying for registration to practice medicine in South Africa.

ECFMG is a global leader in health care—serving physicians, members of the medical education and regulatory communities, health care consumers, and those researching issues in medical education and health workforce planning.

Nigerian doctors in South Africa and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates

Step 1: The HPCSA requires practitioners who obtained their basic medical qualification outside of South Africa to use ECFMG’s Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPICSM) to have their medical credentials verified (e.g. Nigerian doctors in South Africa).

All new applicants who obtained their basic medical qualification outside of South Africa are required to establish an EPIC account if they do not have one already.

Step 2: Practitioners are required to upload their credentials to EPIC for verification.

Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials

EPIC is an innovative, online service that practitioners (e.g. Nigerian doctors in South Africa) can use throughout their careers. Through EPIC, practitioners will be able to build a digital career portfolio of the primary-source verified credentials related to their medical education, training, and registration/license. They can then use EPIC to request reports verifying the authenticity of their credentials be provided to any organisation in the world, including medical regulatory authorities and potential employers, such as hospitals and academic institutions.

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