Student drive towards medicine strengthens after losing mom to Covid
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2023/02/student-drive-towards-medicine-strengthens-after-losing-mom-to-covid/
By Kefa Senoga
By January 28, 2023, Uganda had registered 170,328 cases of coronavirus. Of those, 3,630 had died. Florence Bwanika is part of that tragic statistic. Bwanika, a renowned veterinary doctor and academic, succumbed to the pandemic on January 17, 2021, the time Uganda was just shaking itself off the first wave of the pandemic. Uganda later had the second wave of the virus, which was more deadly.
Bwanika was the mother of Namayanja Christabel, a year-four student of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) School of Medicine (SoM) in Mengo. Namayanja says while zeroing in on a course to pursue at university, she wanted one which would give her the opportunity to impact and transform lives. And human medicine was one such course.
Namayanja’s mother, as well as her father, Christopher Bwanika, wanted her to pursue medicine. Her parents encouraged her to put emphasis on science subjects in secondary school to prepare her for this path. Namayanja studied at the Church-founded Gayaza High School, Uganda’s oldest all-girls boarding secondary school. The Bwanika couple was passionate about educating the younger generation.
In August 2021, seven months after losing her mother, Namayanja says she also lost her grandmother “under circumstances that could be prevented.” While interacting with Uganda Partners during an online interview, Namayanja said those two deaths of her loved ones cemented the belief that she was, indeed, on the right path, by pursuing a career in medicine. She believes that the knowledge she will acquire in the training will enable her to offer the first line of treatment to her close relatives.
According to Namayanja, Gayaza High School laid the foundation for whatever virtues she currently reaps. She says at Gayaza, she was able to acquire multiple skills outside of science. Among these were writing, reading and social interaction – the latter reinforced as she served in different capacities as a student leader in Gayaza. She was once a chapel prefect (leader in charge of religious affairs) and the editor in chief of the school writers’ club.
With the experience she garnered working for the writers’ club, it was easy for Namayanja to work for the UCU School of Medicine’s Writers’ Society, where she runs a blog.
Acknowledging that her medicine studies, including extensive reading, are time intensive, she juggles classwork and activities beyond class with strong planning skills.
“I usually plan for the day, and follow up that plan with daily goals,” Namayanja says.
She says the SoM learning environment eases student academic challenges.
“UCU has provided quality services to us,” she said. “As students, we feel we are getting the value for our tuition; we are taught by some of the best practitioners in the medical field, and groomed to be high-quality professionals who are exceptional and holistic.”
She cites lecturers like Dr. Rhoda Mayega, a renowned pediatrician at Mengo Hospital, who “has been very pivotal in driving us to become better doctors.”
Namayanja says she is also interested in exploring other fields like finance, technology and artificial intelligence. “I strive to equip myself with knowledge from other fields that are necessary in this fast-changing world.”
She believes that one day, she will be able to apply all the knowledge that she acquires from other fields into her profession.
In the future, Namayanja hopes to run a mental health blog that incorporates telemedicine to be able to reach people who need mental health services.
“I am looking at promoting good health-seeking behavior and practices among members of my community, which is the responsibility of a doctor,” Namayanja explains.
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