Dr Boitumelo Kosi

Recently appointed as a Quality Advisor/ surveyor, Dr Biotumelo (Tumi) Kosi admits that her life has changed dramatically since she joined COHSASA.

“I see things differently,” she says. As a young intern working at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in the Eastern Cape she was so focused on the clinical aspects of her work with patients that she rarely had an opportunity to get to know, see or experience many of the departments in the hospital.

“Through COHSASA and attending surveys, I have now become aware of a complete picture. One begins to see a hospital as an active, operating organism with a life of its own. I now have a truly comprehensive understanding of how hospitals function. 

“I have also found that working in the field of quality improvement is changing my mindset: I am beginning to apply the principles of QI in my own life. I work out solutions to problems in my everyday life!”

Obtaining her MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2010, Tumi completed her internship working rotations through paediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and completing three months of family medicine. This entailed primary health care, anaesthesia, accident and emergencies and orthopaedics. She was responsible for the clinical management of a wide spectrum of patients, including those with TB and HIV and she also assisted in theatre cases – particularly Caesarean Sections.

She moved back to Cape Town to complete her Community Service year at a primary health clinic with the Department of Health in the Western Cape. Here she encountered the full range of illness including chronic and sub-acute conditions.

After her Community Service year, from 2014-2017, Tumi became a Registrar with the National Health Laboratory Service where she prepared specimens and conducted microscopic examination and diagnosis of haematoxylin and eosin stains (H&E stains) in tissue. She worked in a team to conduct cytological examination of gynaecological and non-gynaecological specimens and gave academic presentations. She also taught medical students.

Before and after her Registrar contract, Tumi also worked at a private facility, Ikhaya Lempilo (a Xhosa word that means “house of wellness”). Here she treated a vast array of patients, many with HIV and TB.

It was while she was employed in the public sector that Tumi had to come face-to-face with the harsh reality that many young doctors working in the South African public sector must endure. While she loved her work, she found the conditions extremely stressful. The patient loads are often unrealistic and burnout is not uncommon.

“At times, I was overwhelmed and I decided that I needed a change from clinical care. Many doctors in the South African public system find that the conditions are difficult and they leave the country. I don’t want to do that – I will go overseas at some stage but I will bring any expertise I gain there back to South Africa.”

She hopes to bring her sharp analytical skills to the COHSASA table. “I tend to analyse things and I have a very strong inborn sense of risk assessment and prevention before there is a calamity! I would like to invest these skills in creating safe care for patients.

“Since I joined COHSASA I have become more interested in the legal aspects of medicine and the role of human rights in patient care.”

What lies in the future for Tumi?

“I hope to travel overseas in future. I would love to work in the UK and gain experience in the NHS. Then I want to return to South Africa and implement what I have learnt overseas to benefit the local population.

In the meantime, she will indulge in her favourite pastimes – walking and reading.

Welcome Tumi!