Academic medicine in South Africa was created largely by talented graduates who, having travelled overseas (especially to Britain) for postgraduate training, returned to teach in the newly established medical schools and teaching hospitals. However, over the past three decades fewer have decided to return. Consequently academic medicine generally is in decline. Hospital specialists are demoralised, and about 80% of those recently surveyed indicated that they intended leaving the public health service if the present imbalance between service commitments, research opportunities, and poor pay persists (Curtin, 1991). About 40% of graduating medical students emigrate, usually to avoid conscription. The continuing violence and political uncertainty within the country probably ensure that few will ever return.
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