Young medic gives back to his community

At just 22, Mkhombo understands deeper meaning of his calling

20 September 2022 - 09:38
Decent Mkhombo is a qualified doctor doing his internship training at Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge.
Image: Vukuzenzele Decent Mkhombo is a qualified doctor doing his internship training at Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge.

Decent Mkhombo, who made news last year when he earned his medical degree aged just 21, is now giving back to his community as an intern doctor.

Mkhombo, 22, is attached to Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, for his internship. He believes that the youth have the answers to the problems the country faces. 

He says that young people should be given opportunities to express their ideas and provide solutions. He also encouraged youth employed in public service to use their positions to contribute towards community development.

“The organisational culture in the public service should be promoting new thinkers and young thinkers by giving them leadership roles,” says Mkhombo.

Born and raised in Thulamahashe, also in Bushbuckridge, Mkhombo matriculated at Orhovelani High School and then went to the University of Limpopo to study medicine.

He says that he did not initially plan to become a doctor, but after a conversation with his father, he soon realised that he had the character to be one.

“The pace of my life led me to different places, but when I got to my matric year, I was frozen by choice. I ended up sitting down with my father, who discussed my strengths and weaknesses with me and that is how we got here.”

In 2016, Mkhombo was among the first group of students enrolled at the newly introduced medical school at the University of Limpopo – he was just 15. He received a bursary from the Limpopo health department.

Even though he is so young, Mkhombo says he is fortunate not to have faced discrimination or bullying from his colleagues or his patients. He says that he understands the quality of his work speaks for him and he is confident that he is well-equipped to do his job.

Mkhombo chose to do his internship training at Mapulaneng Hospital because he wants to serve his community and give back before he chooses his next path in life. “I came back to give back to the community that raised me.”

As an intern, Mkhombo is rotating between different departments in the hospital, so he can be exposed to various specialties. Although he has not decided what he wants to specialise in, he is considering nuclear medicine, which involves using small amounts of radioactive substances to take pictures of areas inside the body and to treat disease.

Mkhombo believes working in a public hospital is not difficult because of the structures and protocols in place. It is easier to do the work when you are focused on the patients and what is best for them, he says, adding that as a public health worker, treating patients with dignity and respect goes a long way in serving them. 

“To me, being a public servant means not making your patient feel like less of a person.”

Mkhombo says his job is not about the title, but the recognition he gets for helping those in need.

Becoming a doctor

Universities have different entry requirements, but in general, if you want to become a doctor, you need to pass matric with an average of 70%-75% (excluding life orientation). Every year, more students apply to study medicine than the universities can accommodate, so you must achieve excellent marks in mathematics, physical sciences and life sciences, which are compulsory subjects if you want to become a doctor.

Visit the websites of individual universities to find out their specific entry requirements.