Cape Town – A group of prospective neuropsychology interns have turned to crowdfunding, in anticipation of its year-long prerequisite unpaid internship.
The group of seven current students have since raised a mere R700 from two donors since its crowdfunding page went live on September 13, with an ambitious target set at R 840 000.00.
Neuropsychology graduates are required to do the clinical internship in order to qualify as a registered neuropsychologist, recognised by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
The UCT’s Master’s programme in Neuropsychology is currently the only active training programme in South Africa, based across two public hospitals, Groote Schuur Hospital and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
The successful completion of the HPCSA-approved internship and board exam, would result in their registration as a neuropsychologist.
Class representative for the 2023 internship cohort Altay Yüce Turan said: “Clinical neuropsych interns currently work a full internship where they see patients, write reports including diagnoses and recommendations which are used by the multidisciplinary teams at Groote Schuur and Red Cross, and receive no pay.”
Turan said the lack of funding makes the internship a barrier to professional entry for students, particularly those not cushioned by wealth, seeing predominantly students of colour disadvantaged and leaving the programme.
Only two of the 2023 cohort are from Cape Town.
Raphaella Lewis said the amount raised through the crowdfunding, would go towards basic living expenses and transport costs for the interns.
Lewis said students have left the programme as they’re unable to afford to stay in it. This year’s programme currently has around 12 interns, double the amount it usually accepts as it skipped a cohort due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I do know that a lot of them work multiple jobs while having to do their internship just to keep finances afloat,” Lewis said.
“So it’s just very busy and it makes it emotionally and physically demanding and exhausting.”
Department of Health and Wellness spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department submitted a letter to the National Health Department, requesting them to co-ordinate the placement of neuropsychology interns.
UCT was unable to provide a comment before going to print.