As a young medical student, Prof. Sarah Kiguli says she knew what she wanted to specialise in. She had helped a woman give birth and felt a sense of fulfillment.
The first day as a newly qualified doctor, she was assigned to the Mulago Hospital’s Paediatric Acute Care Unit, where she saw children convulsing or children who could barely support themselves. She was deeply moved, and instantly knew this is where she wanted to be for the rest of her career. After internship, she served as a medical officer for two years and then pursued graduate training in Paediatrics and Child Health.
She has never looked back. “It has been years but I have never left Makerere College of Health Sciences and Mulago Hospital,” she says, “Later, I also did a Masters in Health Professions Education, my second passion”
Today, Prof. Kiguli urges young health professionals to know what their passion is - something that sparks one’s inner desire for the career before choosing their areas of specialisation.
“I sing in my heart and smile when I treat a child and see them begin to sit and eat. Do graduate training in an area which you love, and where there is need,” says Prof. Kiguli
Her story was one of the powerful experiences that medical interns who participated at the recent induction course got to benefit from, as they transition from being students to navigating work life challenges.
The award winning training programme, which has received global recognition at the USAID HRH2030 Health Workforce Resilience Awards, is organised by ACHEST in partnership with Health Professionals Education Initiative (HEPI), Makerere University College of Health Sciences and Ministry of Health.
Prof. Kiguli also highlighted several reasons why postgraduate training is important, including the need to manage complex clinical problems , severe cases and addressing population or public health needs.
“Whatever we do is to address the needs. It is not personal gains per say,” said Prof. Kiguli
“Graduate training gives you the knowledge and skills to do better.
She added “However, it is not good to do it soon after completion. You need experience. Do it at least one year after internship.”
Another speaker, Cliff Aliga, from the Aga Khan University, made a compelling presentation on nursing practice.
To make it more interactive, Aliga asked interns to describe the internship period, and their responses bordered on being uncomfortable.
He observed that some of these experiences lead to negative outcomes such as stress and burnout, mental health problems and poor patient care. Yet, internship, by and large, provides an opportunity to build self confidence in practice, manage expectations, facilitate team work, have a professional identity and build connections.
He elaborated on the types of supervisors that are often found in a hospital setting, categorising them into three: the nurturer, the provider, and the team player.
“Of these, nurturers are the most effective facilitators of intern’s learning. They present opportunities, explain the meaning and importance of opportunities and guide you to seize opportunities to guide your learning,” noted Aliga.
“The ‘provider’ only provides opportunities; interns however, may lack the experience to identify opportunities placed in front of them. And for the ‘team player’ kind of supervisor, interns do not seem ready for a “team player” because they must first learn the game before they can play,” explained Aliga.
Other topics covered were how to be a good nurse, including paying attention to patients details, learning on the job, learning from past mistakes, and being accountable for their actions.
ACHEST also gave the interns a demonstration on how to use the eHealth Online platform for registration of health workers and licensing of health units. This generated questions from the interns which were answered via the chat box. Prof. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde who moderated the session highlighted the importance of this platform and encouraged the interns to visit the website.
The concluding remarks were from the ACHEST Executive Director, Prof. Francis Omaswa who inspired the interns to believe in their career choices.
“You are going to work in every corner of Uganda, but also be connected to professionals around the world. And as you grow in your professions, you'll meet people of good repute & you find yourself a citizen of the world,” said Prof. Omaswa
He added: “It is a noble profession. You have made good choices. And if I were to start again, in S.6, I would still study medicine and not any other course. That's my happy experience as a doctor over many years.
This session of the induction course is the second of its kind this year. It was held virtually, owing to the COVID19 pandemic prevention guidelines.
The first session was held in March 2020, a summary of which is available on this link: https://www.achest.org/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=276&Itemid=459
Article compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist, ACHEST