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Medical Elective – Nicola Phillips

My first day at Jinja hospital was so unbelievably fascinating and thought provoking, and a day that will change the way I look at medicine for the rest of my career.

There is far too much to say in a short paragraph to sum up all my thoughts and experiences, so I thought I would write a snippet on the weekly ward round and the extreme difference to the UK. A consultant led ward round happens once a week, with a consultant physician, two interns, eight clinical officers, 18 nurses and approximately 25 student nurses. Bear with me…Now imagine this in a 20-bed ward where the beds are half a metre apart, family members are present by the bed or peering through the window, and don’t forget the patient!

It is cramped and hot (felt most by us English lot!) to say the least, however I think it profoundly demonstrates the level of keenness and eagerness shown by the staff to learn more about the patients, and their care. This is the time they see the doctors and they really want to learn everything possible: a trait that is very admirable in them all. They do not have the same facilities available as we do in the UK, such as diagnostic blood tests, scans, and ultrasounds. The doctors rely on history and clear clinical signs, an older style of medicine than we are used to and one that is so interesting and valuable to our learning.

At a first glance of the ward, you see family members camped outside cooking and providing food, bedding provided by the family, and quite a lot of chaos; it is easy to draw the wrong conclusions about the care the patients receive. After spending only an hour there, it is so apparent that all staff and family members are working so hard with what they have available and treating what they see in front of them to the best of their ability. The diligence and dedication shown to work and the raw want to learn is something that will stay with me and inspire my career far longer than any of my initial perceptions of ward life.