Site Search
Home > Resources > Electives

The Unit


The Princess of Wales Trauma Unit at the Tygerberg Academic Hospital is the teaching hospital Level 1 (equivalent) Trauma Centre for the Northern Suburbs of the Western Cape, South Africa. It is situated in the Tygerberg Hospital, a 1400 bed multidisciplinary teaching hospital. It is a “trauma only” emergency unit separate form the other hospital emergency units.

The unit consists of a 6-bed Major Trauma Resus unit (C1DR), a mid-level severity evaluation unit of +/- 30 trolley beds (C1a Trauma), and a General Trauma Service post-operative ward of 26 beds. Intensive Care is provided in the General Surgical ICU (10 beds) or the Respiratory Critical Care unit (7 beds). We also house the regional burn centre (25 beds, including 3 ICU beds) and have a Paediatric Surgical service and ICU. Presently the General ICU is due for upgrade to 16 beds and 12 high care, and the Trauma unit will gain its own 6 bed ICU in the near future. EMS is provided by state and private services, and the Red Cross Air Mercy Service helicopter and fixed wing retrieval service.

The hospital serves as the referral centre for approximately half of the Western Cape Province and sees 22500 trauma cases per year, of which between 1000 and 1500 are Major Injury arriving intubated and ventilated. We manage some 700 trauma laparotomies, 300 vascular trauma cases and around 450 penetrating neck traumas per year. The average ISS is between 12 and 25. The unit is staffed by full-time Medical Officers (GP in fulltime government hospital practice) who work on a shift basis and referrals are made to the on-call registrars of the various in-house disciplines. The unit is headed academically by a Principal Surgeon (Dr Daniel Du Toit) . All staff are ATLS certified or equivalent, and most have some post graduate qualification in addition to their basic degree. 

Learning Opportunities

Students will be expected to do daily ward rounds in the Trauma Unit and ward, become involved with ward work and attend departmental academic activities (Trauma Academic Program and the General Surgery X-ray meeting), as well as doing self study in the University Library. Practical experience will include watching and assisting the Trauma Surgeons in the Trauma Operating theatre, assisting with patient care in the Trauma Unit and helping to suture minor wounds. Daily student tutorials with senior registrars or consultants and sessions in the clinical skills laboratory are also available. Exposure to orthopaedic Trauma care, management of head injuries and burn care will be encouraged. It is expected of students to do calls with 24hr availability in house, for assisting with surgery. In the future it may become possible for students to spend some time with the EMS services as observers, as the Regional EMS Training College has recently relocated to Tygerberg Hospital Campus. The opportunity exists for research projects to be undertaken as part of the team, while on rotation at Tygerberg but prior arrangement will be required. We presently are engaged in an exchange program, whereby resident surgeons from the Karolinska Institute spend three months working in our unit.

Elective Details

Number of Students Accepted

2 per session (Total of 4 per session in General Surgery)

Duration of Elective

Can be from 2 weeks to 4 months


Overseas student residence on Tygerberg Medical Campus


Must register as Special Student with the Medical School

Applicant Requirements

Fourth to final year medical student or post graduate (Visitor Status) and must register as foreign student with HPCSA. Post graduate students should contact Prof Brian Warren in the Department of Surgery.


Undergraduate: International Students Coordinator intertyg@sun.ac.za, Postgraduate students: Rachel Pullen, crp@sun.ac.za

Tygerberg Medical School
PO Box 19063

Tygerberg, Western Cape 7505
South Africa

Phone: +27 21 938 9549
Fax: +27 21 933 6330)

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

URL: www.sun.ac.za/surgery/

Nov 09, 2014