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By Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa
In July 2023, Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduates 45 pioneer students of its School of Medicine. The graduates are the first batch of exceptional doctors – with many more to come, marking a milestone since the establishment of the School of Medicine in 2018.
How UCU’s School of Medicine collaborations benefits its students
To forge the best doctors, UCU’s School of Medicine has proactively forged partnerships with institutions such as Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mengo Hospital, Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute. These collaborations ensure that students receive comprehensive and high-quality training throughout their five-year program.
Under the guidance of Dr. Gerald Tumusiime, Dean of the School of Medicine, students are strategically placed in different healthcare facilities at various stages of their training. This approach aims to provide them with diverse clinical exposure and the opportunity to learn from specialists in different settings.
“By moving to different health facilities, they get more skills from different specialists and exposure so that they may make informed choices with their career paths,” Dr. Tumusiime said.
Beginning from their first and second years, students gain valuable clinical experience at Mengo and Mukono Church of Uganda hospitals. As they progress to their third and fourth years, they undertake extensive clinical practice at Mengo Hospital. In their fourth year, students have the privilege of training at the Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care Africa, Mulago Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute.
Beyond the clinical aspects, the School of Medicine emphasizes the importance of holistic development. Students participate in mandatory community engagement programs, aligning with the philosophy of reaching out to the sick. This approach cultivates character and instills empathy in future doctors. Furthermore, the school’s collaboration with organizations such as Noah’s Ark Ministries, a Christian entity, offers students opportunities to integrate their faith into their medical practice. Noah’s Ark integrates the student doctors in their medical center and schedules outreaches to communities for clinical screenings and immunizations.
Dr. Tumusiime believes that this holistic approach sets UCU students apart, making them not only highly skilled professionals, but also compassionate caregivers. Through their training, these students learn to prioritize patient well-being and exhibit genuine care for those they serve.
“Interactions with other Christian doctors at such Christian organizations enable our students to integrate faith in medical practice,” Dr. Tumusiime said.
The institution’s emphasis on quality training, diverse clinical exposure, and the integration of faith in medical practice ensures that UCU graduates are well-prepared to make a positive impact on the communities they serve.
As the future of medical education and practice unfolds, prospective students can find solace in UCU’s dedication to empowering aspiring doctors with the knowledge, skills and character that makes them stand out in the crowd.
Testimonies of graduands
Ronnie Mwesigwa’s dream, which is contributing towards healing the ailing health sector, is near with his imminent graduation. Mwesigwa is concerned about the patient-to-doctor ratio gap in Uganda. Uganda’s doctor-to-patient ratio is one doctor per every 25,725 patients. In comparison, the USA has one doctor for every 340 persons.
Mwesigwa lost his grandmother – a death he believes was caused by negligent doctors. Her final note urged her grandson to “study medicine and become a doctor.”
“The doctor who was serving her postponed her treatment many times even when she needed immediate attention,” he said.
Graduand Davis Ampumuza has promised himself to bring strong work ethic and enthusiasm in the medical field to curb the rate at which pregnant mothers lose their lives and children due to negligence and unavailability of medical officers.
“The short answer to making health care better in Uganda is a well-developed infrastructure,” he said. “The longer answer relates to the fact that women in particular stay in very hard to reach areas where the distance between their homes and health units is very long and the roads are very poor.”
Ampumuza added that the lack of nearby medical services, combined with procedures performed by less-qualified health care workers, increases the risk of mortality for pregnant women and their babies.
Ampumuza, Mwesigwa and 43 other new UCU SoM graduates will help fill those gaps.
Following the July graduation, there will be 259 students in the School of Medicine.