Young Doctor enthusiastic about healthcare

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Growing up, Dr Dakalo Munenyiwa always knew she wanted to work in the healthcare sector and now she is finally living her life-long dream and hopes to serve, educate and ultimately have an impact on the youth of South Africa.

Dakalo Munenyiwa (28) from Glenvista is a medical doctor with a heart for people and medicine.

Munenyiwa pursued her studies at the University of Cape Town and later obtained her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) in 2019.

After she obtained her qualification, she did a two-year internship as part of her training at Bloemfontein Academic Health Care Complex where she alternated between three hospitals – Pelonomi Regional, Universitas Academic and the National District Bloemfontein doing different specialities.

When Munenyiwa returned to Johannesburg she did an additional year of community service. It is the young doctor’s heart and passion for people that led her to pursue the medical profession.

“Life has a mysterious way of directing our path and we always find ourselves where we need to be. I can remember in high school how I couldn’t see myself doing anything else and I was fortunate enough to choose between commerce and health. The image of myself sitting behind a desk, working more with numbers than people, did not sit well with me.

“Medicine is very broad but it’s a matter of understanding your purpose and having a heart for people,” said Munenyiwa.

Her contribution to youth healthcare

Munenyiwa joined #Keready, which is a movement that seeks to enhance healthcare-seeking behaviour among young people and improve access to health services in South Africa.

The #Keready team consists of 10 young doctors, 95 nurses, a team of communicators and drivers and over a hundred mobilisers who ensure that young people in four provinces (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape) have access to the health services they need.

As a young doctor for the movement, her focus is specifically directed at the youth. She believes in educating them about their health and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

When Munenyiwa initially joined #Keready, she was responsible for the Johannesburg district. Along with other young doctors, she plays a pivotal role in driving the movement forward.

“The young people who make use of the services feel more comfortable speaking to a health professional that is young and has a better understanding of the age-related issues faced by young people,” says the passionate young doctor.

She adds that her experience being a part of the #Keready movement has made her realise that she is passionate about clinical medicine. The platform has also helped her grow and expand her interest in clinical medicine.

How she has navigated through her challenges

Munenyiwa has often had to deal with the stereotype and disbelief that you cannot be young and be a medical professional. “Despite the usual challenges that come with being a doctor, my biggest challenge has been my age. People do not believe that you can be young and be a medical practitioner,” explains Munenyiwa.

She expresses her utmost gratitude to the values learnt in medical school, to remain professional and that is how she overcomes the criticism and judgement. Her confidence in who she is as a doctor has also played a vital role in overcoming the challenge of disbelief in her competency.

“I step up to that challenge saying, ‘Yes, I acknowledge that I am young but I am qualified. I know what I am doing and I am still learning’,” highlighted Munenyiwa.

She emphasised the importance of kindness and professionalism as a method of navigating through her challenges and bridging the gap.

A bright future in medicine

With a bright future ahead of the young medical professional, Munenyiwa is proud of herself for achieving her goal of being a doctor.

She always had an interest in dermatology as a speciality.

“I’m definitely pursuing clinical medicine with the dream of ultimately becoming a dermatologist. Specialising is a long journey but I have grown older and wiser, knowing that everything will happen in its time,” she said.

She highlights that challenges will always be there but if you persist and preserve you will make it.“Overall the experience of #Keready and being a part of the movement helped me self-actualise. It is not only about us, as young doctors giving back to the community, but it is also beneficial for us to discover ourselves. It’s for young people by young people.”

She advised young people interested in pursuing a career in medicine to look forward to it, highlighting that it is a very fulfilling job despite the challenges.

“It is important to understand that this kind of profession involves constant development. It is lifelong learning and you need to be prepared for that.”

Text: DESNAY PETERSON. Photo: LONWABO ZIMELA. Make-up: DAKALO MUNENYIWA. Styling: ZETHE ZIMELA

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