Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Tackling a double career

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:0306191
  1. Karen Hebert, third year medical student1
  1. 1Bristol

Brendan Venter is a name well known to rugby fans. He has 17 caps as a Springbok rugby player, representing South Africa between 1994 and 1999. More recently he has been both a player and the coach at London Irish rugby club. What many fans might not know is that this Johannesburg born 33 year old is also a qualified doctor. Karen Hebert finds out more

“From as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be a doctor.” Brendan told me, as we sat in the sun in the London Irish club stands in the leafy suburb of Sunbury in London.

Brendan started off playing rugby for South African schools. He said that even then his studies came first. “I was a good rugby player at school. I saw it as a tool to get a degree--my parents weren't very wealthy. I decided that if I made it as a rugby player it would be a bonus but that even if I didn't it would pay for my studies and I could become a doctor.”

Brendan went to the University of the Orange Free State to study medicine and play rugby. After too much partying in his first year, he just scraped through his exams. “I had …

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