To many young medical graduates, joining the job market can be daunting. They are not familiar with how the health sector operates and what is expected of them; what the government policies and health worker entitlements and benefits are among others.
Without proper guidance, one is at risk of being stressed and burnt out, which could lead to mental health problems and poor patient care.
Against this background, the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Health-Professional Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI) recently held an induction course for over 100 newly qualified newly qualified doctors, nurses and pharmacists in Uganda.
The March 2020 induction course was the first part of the two sessions planned this year. Another session will be announced in due course.
The objective of the course is to enable the young doctors to be conversant with the Ugandan health system and the Ministry of Health Vision and Mission; to understand the basics of government procedures and rules and quality assurance in the health care system. Other objectives are to ensure that medical interns are prepared to work in the Ugandan health system and understand the referral system, job market, career progression and postgraduate training; and how to take good care of themselves.
Internship is the transition period between being a student and a fully-fledged professional.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, the Director of Health Workforce Education and Development at ACHEST noted that the induction helps the interns understand their roles and how to work in a team.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the ACHEST Executive Director welcomed the medical interns to the induction and to the profession. “You have not made a mistake to come into the profession,” he stressed. He informed the interns that they are leaders in society and society expects them to lead by example. He thus noted that they must prepare themselves to be leaders.
Dr. Rose Byanyima, Executive Director of Mulago elaborated on the process of internship and the stakeholders involved. She stated that one is expected to do their duties professionally while respecting everybody they are working with, including the patients.
“We don’t expect interns to have another side job and should respect their colleagues. Teamwork is very important and therefore interns should always strive to be part of the department in all ways possible,” said Dr. Byanyima.
“Have an impact in the department so that you can be missed while you are away. Respect the chains of command. Never communicate without going through your supervisor,” she added.
Other points she raised were on accountability, safeguarding hospital equipment with their respective departments, and proper personal grooming and hygiene.
Dr. Byanyima also urged the young doctors to observe ethics and take confidentiality seriously. “Interns should never release patients’ information to the press and other outsiders. Don’t accept gifts because you will be compromised and don’t also give gifts to your supervisors,” she said.
Prof. Noelline Nakasujja, the Head of Psychiatry Department at the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University started off her talk by demonstrating ad teaching the participants some relaxation exercise tips. She told them that they should always take off some time to relax despite their busy schedule. She advised them to have time with friends and get time away from work to avoid getting stressed.
The President of the Uganda Medical Association, Dr. Richard Idro encouraged the interns to join their respective professional associations to avoid isolation and also enjoy the continuous professional development that they offer. He he also urged them to develop a culture of saving and avoid living beyond their means.
A presentation on COVID 19 was made by Dr. Fred Semitala from the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University. It attracted a lot of questions from the interns. This highlights the need for Continuous Profession Development. This was emphasized by Dr. Kiguli-Malwadde who said learning should never end as new things come up every day.
The session was interractive as the interns were encouraged to ask questions and give comments. All in all, it was a successful event. The 2nd session could not be held because of the COVID 19 lockdown. However, it will be conducted as soon as the situation normalises.