NoteThe Clinical Associates twinning partnerships in South Africa are made possible through the support of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in South Africa. Activities are carried out through institutional partnerships linking South African universities with counterpart institutions in the United States.

These partnerships are managed by the American International Health Alliance’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center, which is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).


Volunteer Health Corps Clinical Associates Mentors

The American International Health Alliance is a US government-funded non-profit that works in global health, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the development of the HIV/AIDS Twinning Center, they create partnerships between US institutions and institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as universities, hospitals, and clinics, focused on health systems strengthening and health professions education.

They also have a complementary program called the Volunteer Healthcare Corps that offers unique opportunities for skilled health professionals in the US to provide technical expertise at the host institutions within their partnerships.

The Volunteer Healthcare Corps is actively recruiting Clinical Associates Mentors to serve in 3-12 month placements in South Africa.

Launched in 2008 by the South African Department of Health, Clinical Associates are similar to Physician Assistants and are dramatically increasing the number of mid-level medical professionals in the health workforce who are able to confront the country’s immediate health needs.

American International Health Alliance initiated partnerships with the three universities in South Africa currently offering Clinical Associates programs:

  1. University of Pretoria and Arcadia University
  2. University of Witswatersrand and Emory University
  3. Walter Sisulu University and The University of Colorado School of Medicine


The first year of the 3-year program is spent at the university; after that, the students are deployed to the district hospitals, where the bulk of their clinical training takes place. You can review find more information about the partnerships in our South African country profile and about the program on their official website.

To strengthen these programs, the Volunteer Healthcare Corps began a South African Clinical Association Mentorship Program, providing US professionals (primarily physician assistants) with the opportunity to serve as mentors and clinical trainers of the students while they are in the district hospitals, often located in rural areas.

This is an unique opportunity for highly skilled health professionals to directly apply their skills and expertise in a place that desperately needs it.

Below is a summary, you can also view the entire scope of work.

Overview of the Walter Sisulu University Volunteer Assignment

The Mentors will be deployed to provide onsite guidance and support to the Clinical Associates students at the district hospitals where they receive the majority of their training, as well as supporting faculty at the University of Walter Sisulu in Eastern Cape and associated teaching sites.

The objective of the Clinical Preceptor is to provide training, support and onsite mentoring for the clinical associate program for WSU students during their second and third year of training at the district hospitals. The Preceptor should impart preceptor skills to faculty and clinicians, as well as clinical skills to students. This includes supportive supervision, mentoring, and specific technical assistance as needed.

The Clinical Associates Program at WSU currently has 78 students enrolled. The first cohort of 23 students started in 2008 and graduated at the end of 2010. The second cohort of 30 students started in 2010 and will graduate at the end of 2012. Intakes are now approximately 25 students per year. There are approximately 8 students at each district hospital clinical site.

In-country placement site:

While some time will be spent on site at Walter Sisulu University, the volunteer would be assigned to one of four district hospitals in the Eastern Cape Province: St. Barnabas, Madzikane kaZulu, Dr Malizo Mpehle, Mthatha General.

Length of the assignment:

3-6 months, part-time or full-time (full-time assumes 40 hours per week with a variable schedule depending on program needs; part-time schedule assumes 16- 24 hours per week with a variable schedule depending on program needs)

Volunteer qualifications:


  • Experienced Physician Assistant
  • Eligible for licensure/registration in South Africa (as a volunteer)
  • At least 3-5 years of Primary Care experience
  • Flexible, energetic, and positive attitude


  • Can work independently with strong leadership skills
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Previous experience working in a low-resource setting with a large case-load, internationalexperience preferred
  • Experience in providing training and hands-on support in a high case-load, primary care environment
  • Experience/Knowledge of HIV/AIDS issues
  • Knowledge of and familiarity with opportunistic infections and treatment
  • Some experience with education and preceptorship, including providing feedback to students and bedside teaching in the clinic setting

If You Are Interested in Becoming a Clinical Associates Mentor

Please send your CV and cover letter as well as complete our short online VCH Application:

For more information about the program or if you have questions please contact the HIV/AIDS Twinning Center program analyst Sara Adelman (She is super nice!)

Resources and Other Uselful Links


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