Victor Mokokotlela

Deputy chairperson, Professional Association of Clinical Associates in SA

Victor Mokokotlela is using his leave to catch up on his work as deputy chairperson of the Professional Association of Clinical Associates in South Africa (Pacasa), established in 2012. “I believe there is no other way to get progress, you need to have a strong drive to accomplish anything.”

In his role as deputy chair, Mokokotlela is establishing a new medical profession in South Africa. Clinical associates get histories from patients, assess them, make diagnoses, prescribe treatment for a range of common conditions seen at district hospitals, and refer patients to an appropriate doctor or specialist if necessary.

Mokokotlela was one of the first of this new breed to qualify, in December 2011, having done his three year bachelor of clinical medical practice at the University of the Witwatersrand, one of three universities to offer the course (the others are Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape and the University of Pretoria).

Recognition is always crucial when a new profession comes into being. Mokokotlela was closely involved with the establishment of a professional body, Pacasa.

“We will be working closely with the department of health, the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Allied Health Professions Council,” he says. A major task Pacasa needs to perform is to define the profession’s scope of practice. It will also represent its members in labour issues and monitor the profession’s impact.

“We’ll also be focusing on the public, who also need to know us and what we can offer. It means quite a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it.”

Public health is where Mokokotlela wants to be for the foreseeable future. “In years to come I would like to be influencing the health system on a bigger scale, ensuring that clinical associates are being utilised effectively in South Africa.” — Mandi Smallhorne