13 December 2021 Photo Supplied
It still feels surreal to graduate as a medical doctor on Monday. Dr Sibulele Sipika is one of the newest cohort of doctors after completing her MB ChB degree at the University of the Free State (UFS) and graduating during the December graduation ceremonies.

The journey to becoming a medical doctor has been challenging for one of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) newest cohort of doctors, who says there were times when she would ask herself if she really needed to study, to wake up and find that she really needed to go out on a call. 

But, says Dr Sibulele Sipika, this journey has also been amazing, and she would not trade it for anything. She will be graduating during the December ceremonies, which had to be moved to online broadcasts due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. 

Although both her parents and siblings are university graduates, she is the first medical doctor in the family. 

It feels good to sleep peacefully and not worry about studying

“There were times when my friends and I would say, ‘you know, other kids chose for themselves – they are sleeping (while I am on call) or living their best lives’, but then we laugh about it, because I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I loved it; the things we see and do are really rewarding. I strangely learnt about faith on a different level because I would try, fall, get disappointed, and get up and try again.” 

“The amount of work that is loaded on you, where you question yourself and wonder, how am I going to get through this; but by faith, you leap, you land, and you pass,” says Dr Sipika. 

According to her, it still feels surreal, as she keeps asking herself if it is a dream. One thing that she is sure of, however: it feels pretty good to sleep peacefully and not worry about studying and cases, and just do nothing. 

Dr Sipika, who also has a BSc degree, says as far as she can remember, she always wanted to become a doctor. The feeling of seeing someone get better and knowing that she has helped in some way, is such a heart-warming feeling, her heart just pumps custard.

“Medicine is a calling, it is beautiful. I love it. These are the things that will make you push through even when you feel like giving up. I also have an amazing support system – my family, and the friends I made here in Bloemfontein are now family. I thank God for placing them in my life. We went through the tough times together,” she says. 

Do what you love and don’t give up

Though she is yet to decide what to specialise in, this passionate young doctor from the small town of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape is up to any challenge she might face on her journey. She is currently doing her internship at Sebokeng Hospital in Sebokeng, Gauteng. 

Her message to other students: “Of the utmost importance is that you must do what you love. Never give up, always look at how far you have come. There will be times when you feel frightened about what is coming next, when you question your abilities; just take a deep breath, embrace the uncertainty, and allow it to lead you to places.” 

She concludes by saying, “Ask for help, whether it is academic, financial, emotional, or mental, ask for help. Also take care of yourself, do the fun things you love doing. You need to have a life outside medicine and studying. And of course, don’t forget to pray.”

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