ACHEST in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Health Professions Education Initiative held the 3rd interns’ induction course on February 26, 2021.
The course was hosted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 70 newly qualified doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists participated. These graduates are currently doing internship from different hospitals across Uganda.
The objective of the course is to enable the young health professionals 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. It also ensures 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.
The course was moderated by the ACHEST Director of Health Workforce Education and Development, Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, who described internship as the transition period between being a student and a fully-fledged professional.
“Internship is a fulfilling experience because you take on responsibilities that you couldn’t take on as students. But it is also busy and sometimes challenging and if we are not careful it can be stressful. Sometimes, it leads to burnout and can lead to mental health problems leading to poor patient care,” observed Dr. Kiguli-Malwadde.
Notably, this induction course has helped the young professionals who have gone through it to adjust and find internship exciting. Previous sessions were hosted in March and July 2020 with over 100 participants respectively.
The Deputy Director of Mulago hospital Dr. Rosemary Byanyima guided interns on how to manage the expectations of the hospital, Ministry of Health, the public, and their parents. She emphasized the need for professionalism, by giving a detailed description of the dos-and-donts while at work.
“When you come as an intern you have expectations but the hospital also has expectations as we are preparing you for the job market. There are many stakeholders in this. Apart from the clinical skills you have, you have to be very professional. We don’t expect you to hold any other job because an internship is a full-time job and an extra job would affect your performance. We expect you to manage time for your ward rounds. Don’t be on the phone for too long. Be courteous and empathetic to patients. These are people who are unwell and we have to put ourselves in their shoes and treat them the way we would want to be treated,” said Dr. Byanyima
The second speaker, Prof. Sarah Kiguli a senior pediatrician at Mulago National Referral Hospital had an interactive segment with the interns as she spoke about career opportunities and facilitating factors. Interns freely shared their experiences. Some of the common challenges that came out strongly were being nervous, worried, and excited on the very first day of internship due to the fear of the unknown; and being overwhelmed and exhausted due to the high patient numbers.
To this, Prof. Kiguli politely told them, “That’s the life of a doctor. When you are an intern, you are the doctor. You are the first person to see the patient; to call someone to assist you; you are the one to decide what it will be like. You are the doctor. It is an opportunity to learn.”
She also gave guidance on how to grow in their careers 5 to 10 years down the road, choosing an area of specialization, business prospects, and personal goals. Most importantly, she emphasized the need to follow their passion.
“You need to have your personal vision and why you exist. The passion or opportunity may also show you direction. You need to have mentors. People to guide you” emphasized Prof. Kiguli
In addition, Psychiatrist Dr. Emmanuel Mwesiga gave a powerful presentation on coping with stress at the workplace, and how to strike a work-life balance. He stressed that amidst the busy medical environment, it was important to track time, participate in social activities, nurture family and relationships for a fall back, and leave work at work among other wellness tips.
Meanwhile, the President of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Dr. Richard Idro emphasized the need for professionalism. He spoke about the difference between UMA, which is a professional association that concentrates on professionalism and welfare issues, and then the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, which is a government regulatory body to enforce standards of education and practice.
The interns were also taken through the digital process of registering or renewing the practicing licence through the online portal. This was facilitated by a software engineer Elisah Mayanja.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the ACHEST Executive Director inspired interns to be global health leaders by explaining to them the global health architecture and global health diplomacy among others. He noted that social accountability would make a difference.
“If we want Africa to be as good as the rest of the world, we need social accountability. As a doctor, you are going to find yourself dealing with people who are not well and it is your job to have the feeling inside you that these are fellow human beings suffering. Don’t become accustomed to it and you see people bleeding and crying and feeling nothing. That is not going to work. You should have a feeling for people, and that is how you are going to learn to be kind to them,” said Prof. Omaswa
He added that social accountability would also help improve the quality of services. “You are starting as an intern, but you can also contribute to the debate on the quality of services. Why are there no drugs You as an intern need needles and IV sets . You should engage with people who supervise you to make sure that those services are available,” he added.
Above all, he urged them to work for the common good. “You are very lucky to join the health profession. It is a calling to serve. And if you serve, returns will come to you. The world is watching. Whether you are alone or not, people will know what you do. If you do things for the common good, they are watching. Don’t think you are losing. Be good, do the right thing at the right time and everything will follow.”
Also, in attendance was Patrick Okello, the Commissioner Human Resources for Health from the Ministry of Health who talked about the terms and conditions of being employed into public service, the types of appointments and emoluments; the ethics and generally the legal framework.
A young medical officer, Enock Mulwanyi shared his story of successfully navigating through internship and urged his younger colleagues to practice medicine as a calling.
Dr. David Okello, the Deputy Executive Director of ACHEST officially closed the induction course with a call to stakeholders to consider integrating public health as part of the internship. “The discipline of medicine is much bigger than the clinical discipline,” said Dr. Okello
The Interns’ Induction Course is globally recognized, having been acknowledged the HRH2030 resilience awards. Read more here>>> https://hrh2030program.org/three-questions-with-dr-elsie-kiguli-malwadde-focusing-pre-service-support-to-foster-health-workforce/
Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist ACHEST