Dr Keitumetse Molise and her twin sister Dr Boitumelo Molise, like most twins do, share a lot in common including their interests. They both enrolled for medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Faculty of Health Sciences. And last year December they were part of the jubilation at the virtual graduation ceremony hosted by the UFS where they both received their degrees in medicine.
Dr Keitumetse said their graduation is a fulfilment of a dream they cherished when they were growing up. She said since her childhood she was always inclined to assist people and studying medicine was the only way she could realise this passion.
“It feels really amazing to graduate with my twin sister. I feel like it makes things easier for both of us because we can help each other,” said Dr Keitumetse. Her twin sister Dr Boitumelo said studying medicine was not an easy experience as it demanded total commitment from them at all times. It was “physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing at times”, she said, adding that during their studies they had to be selfish with their time as most of their time was taken up by studying.
“At times it felt like 24 hours were not enough. There were times when we had to miss even family functions just to study. As a student you have to attend ward rounds, be on call as part of the practical training. Also, being in the hospital you see very sick patients and deal with death. This [was] quite challenging”, said Dr Boitumelo.
Dr Keitumetse characterised 2020 as a particularly “stressful” and “difficult year” given the Covid-19 pandemic. She said this brought about a lot of changes in terms of how they studied and also affected the entire curriculum programme. “We had to adapt to new ways of learning, which had its own challenges; however, I am grateful to our faculty because they did all they could to ensure that we finish the academic year,” she said.
Her sister, Dr Boitumelo chipped in and hailed the UFS for having recruited the “best specialists and lecturers in the country”, adding it is one of the best institutions to study at. She said when they were growing up in Botshabelo there were many doctors and specialists they looked up to.
Said Dr Boitumelo: “Graduating now is not just about me getting the title, but it’s about me finally being in a position where I can make a difference not only in the community I grew up in, but my country as a whole.”
Although they qualified as medical doctors, the sisters have chosen different areas of specialisation. According to Dr Boitumelo, her twin sister loves to be in theatre where she will perform surgeries, while her area of interest lies in obstetrics and gynaecology. She said this is a module she enjoyed during her studies, adding that she is passionate about female reproductive health and she believes there is a lot to be done in this specific area.
The sisters also shared words of advice with the aspiring medical students and students in general. Dr Keitumetse believes that no one should allow her or his background to determine his or her destiny. “[You] should be determined and know what you want to achieve in life. One thing that motivated us was the support of our parents and siblings; they were our pillars of strength. Another thing that motivated us were the doctors that we were surrounded by. They showed us it was possible,” said Dr Keitumetse
Dr Boitumelo said young people must know and understand that one does not have to be “the smartest person on this planet or come from a wealthy family”. Just work hard and study, then the rest will follow, said Dr Boitumelo. “When you pass well as a matriculant, the bursary opportunities and universities will line up in a row and all you would have to do is choose who to work with,” she added.
Prayer, faith, and family are some of the values that kept us going, added Dr Boitumelo. She said just the thought and knowledge that one day she will be in a position to help others motivated her.