Professor Nkhensani Chauke-Malinga has broken new ground for women in SA academia.
This after the University of Pretoria appointed her as the first female in South Africa to head a plastic and reconstructive department.
Chauke-Malinga has worked as a specialist at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Helen Joseph and Leratong Hospital.
Speaking to Sunday World, Chauke-Malinga said she was honoured to be taking up that space because the proportion of black female plastic surgeons in SA is less than 5%.
She said plastic surgery in the country is still male dominated and a perception outside is that female plastic surgeons are not very good.
Born and bred in Giyani, Limpopo, the professor described herself as an ambitious and goal-oriented woman who is passionate about and utterly in love with the craft of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Chauke-Malinga said she fell in love with medicine during her first visit at the local doctor when she was still a child. “I had contracted dermatitis and was admitted to hospital for an extended period while they investigated the cause.
“I was managed by a very gentle, humble doctor who used to visit the hospital once a week. Though burdened by the long queues, he was always very patient, wise and graceful, that’s how I fell in love,” she said.
She said her role in her job is to ensure that the community is optimally served in all spheres of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
“Others include lecturing both undergraduates and postgraduate students, train postgraduates of the vast operative technical skills a plastic surgeon is required to possess as per the Health Professional Council of South Africa and the College of Medicine South Africa. To participate in the exit exams for postgraduates through Collage of Medicine SA and ensure the smooth running of my department.
“To collaborate with other departments; to ensure research and journal publication output from our department and ensure that we participate in planning, hosting and presenting our work on local and international congresses.”
She urged girl children to dream beyond what they see and work hard towards it.