Dr Dube from Thokoza beats the odds and lives her father’s dream

Dr Charmaine Dube’s life journey has not been easy; but with hindsight, it was ordained. As a child, Charmaine would listen to her father talk about his life’s ambition to become a doctor, but circumstances made this impossible. However, she would live his dream for him. She would become a doctor.

Charmaine was bright, and did well at school. But money was a problem. Being a devout Christian, she told herself her future was already mapped out. She had faith, and continued her journey undaunted.

High School was a shock: dilapidated buildings, no facilities, teachers absent throughout the day. Even after the school was relocated to new surroundings, with better facilities, things were only marginally better. None of the teachers taught science. Her one saving grace was a temporary biology teacher. “He convinced me that a university education can be life-changing, and gave me hope,” she says. “That’s how I passed matric.”

With just enough money for the train ticket, her next destination was the University of Westville to enrol for a BSc. With only a limited first-year bursary, she relied on handouts and help with books, food and accommodation. She passed her first year, but the stress and uncertainty of having no resources finally got to her. With a heavy heart, she packed her small bag went back home to Soweto.

“It was wonderful. I had food, shelter, food and the presence of people who loved me. However, I couldn’t stay home forever.” Four years later, with her nose back to the academic grindstone, she obtained a diploma in Nursing (General, Psychiatry, Community Health) and Midwifery. It enabled her to work and save some money.

Charmaine then applied to medical school at two universities – Wits and the University of Cape Town (UCT). The responses were a long time in coming. She was on the point of enrolling at Wits, when a crumpled envelope lying next to the wastepaper basket caught her eye – it was the long-awaited application approval from UCT!

Still holding on to the promise made to her Father, a confident Charmaine arrived in Cape Town with enough money saved to see her through the year. Or so she thought. The savings didn’t last – but the generosity of her fellow students did. Against great odds, and with dogged determination, she made it through the first year.

In her second year, the dark clouds lifted, and the university granted her a full bursary that covered her tuition, books, accommodation and even a R500 stipend. It was all downhill from there. Seven years later, she graduated with an MBChB. She was finally a doctor, and did her father proud.

Her practice opened in 2010 in Thokoza. It was slow at first. But the momentum picked up after a couple of months, and today it is thriving. Money is not her focus, but she acknowledges that like any business, a medical practice needs to manage systems and processes to be profitable. The practice owner essentially becomes the decision-maker, the entrepreneur and the caregiver, all at the same time. Most medical professionals, however, want to be focusing on treating their patients.

To help her with her practice admin, Dr Dube enlisted the services of Healthbridge, who took the time to understand her practice-specific requirements. Her practice enrolled on the Healthbridge 360 service offering, which is designed to help practices through key practice management steps.

Dr Dube is most appreciative of the personalized service she receives from Healthbridge, which helps her focus on treating her patients without having to worry about admin. “They are partners in the true sense of the word” she says.

Being a doctor has never been about money for Charmaine. She believes that healing should be holistic. Human beings stay healthy when there is a balance between psychological, biological, spiritual and social factors.

“I’m here for the community – to show them that nothing is impossible and that being a victim is a loser’s game. My doors are open to everyone, including matric students who need guidance in registering for varsity. I have the knowledge, the computers and the internet.”

She says: “Life is full of mysteries, but all I know is that my long journey worked for me and I can go on sharing my knowledge and my experiences for as long as I am alive,”

Watch Dr Dube’s story here: http://healthbridge.co.za/testimonials

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