Scientific advances mean that we will all have to be life-long students, and one of the key skills you will need as a specialist health professional is self-learning. While there admittedly is a lack of face-to-face continuing education programmes in South Africa, we do have access to the wealth of online courses and training opportunities - many of which are available completely free of charge. But online courses are difficult to complete - not because of the material or format, but because of our hectic lifestyles! Many of us enrol in online courses, follow a few lessons, and then get busy with other things and never find the time to complete the course. It is almost like gym, but for your brain...

Here are a few tips for completing online courses successfully:

  • Make time for online learning part of your workday. Telling yourself you will do it at home or over the weekend, is wishful thinking! Rather schedule time for learning in your calendar in advance - try early mornings for 30 or 60 min at a time.
  • Do not open your email or anything else until you have finished your 30 or 60 min of learning first! That way you will be more focused and efficient in your learning.
  • Get a friend or colleague to commit to completing a course with you, it is always easier to stick to a programme if you have someone else doing it with you.

Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics by Prof Juan Klopper from UCT Dep of Surgery (create a Coursera account)

About this course: If you’ve ever skipped over`the results section of a medical paper because terms like “confidence interval” or “p-value” go over your head, then you’re in the right place. Greater confidence in understanding statistical analysis and the results can benefit both working professionals and those undertaking research themselves.

Statistics - popular options

SPSS Statistics Essential Training on (sign in with your UCT credentials)

REDCap for Designers by the Clinical Research Centre

About this course: Learn how to design your own data collection forms in the web-based data management system REDCap.


REDCap for Data Capturers by the Clinical Research Centre

About this course: Learn how to capture data in the web-based data management system REDCap.



Databases - popular options

Data Management for Clinical Research by Vanderbilt University (create a Coursera account)

About this course: This course presents critical concepts and practical methods to support planning, collection, storage, and dissemination of data in clinical research. Understanding and implementing solid data management principles is critical for any scientific domain. Regardless of your current (or anticipated) role in the research enterprise, a strong working knowledge and skill set in data management principles and practice will increase your productivity and improve your science.