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Luxury Travel

A day in the life of...
Medic to Medic

Isaac Yiwombe is a Medic to Medic alumnus having graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from College of Medicine, University of Malawi (now Kamuzu University of Health Sciences) in 2018. Here he tells us what it’s like to be an intern in Malawi, serving in the government hospitals of one of the poorest countries in the world.

This is a feature from Issue 17 of Charitable Traveller. 

A typical day varies, depending on the part of the hospital you’ve been assigned that day. Some days are good, others are bad. What’s regarded as good or bad is highly subjective, determined by a wide range of factors including personal preferences. For most departments, however, the typical day is quite similar and it’s obvious the department heads share notes on how best to inspire and/or torture their intern doctors.
The first matter of the day is usually the morning handover meeting, the most nerve-wracking and entertaining part of the day. This is where the clinical team working the previous night gives a summary of the events to the doctors taking over. These meetings can be quite tense, especially if one made a mistake with a patient, or missed a critical diagnosis. On the other hand, if everything was done right, there’s usually nothing to worry about.

On some days, this is followed by an academic presentation on a particular topic, usually by a medical student or intern doctor. I look forward to these as they offer a good learning opportunity for everyone, even the attending doctors, and I particularly enjoy giving these presentations too. Afterwards, we go to see the patients in the wards. The main wards in our tertiary hospitals (specialist hospitals) are like halls within the hospital building, with beds crammed up to offer maximum capacity. The old steel dilapidated beds are often fully occupied, sometimes with a couple of patients lying on the cold cemented floors too. There is no privacy among the patients, and infection prevention between the sick is often a challenge. There is a grim atmosphere once you enter these wards, you can feel the hopelessness of the patients, and the hopeful eyes of their guardians praying for a miracle. Ironically, it comes with a sense of gratitude upon reminiscing on one’s own health. I am quickly reminded of my purpose and calling, and why doing my best is a matter of life and death. Several lives depend on it. During the ward round, we review and reassess the patients, and carry out any other tests or procedures as required. This is usually all covered in the morning while the rest of the day is spent completing carried over tasks, or tending to patients in the outpatient clinics.

the hardest thing...

…is breaking bad news to a family about the death of a loved one. Especially when that death could have been prevented had there been more human and material resources available.

The best thing...

…is seeing hope restored when a patient recovers and is discharged. Most patients do survive, and even with our limited resources we manage to help thousands. It’s worth the sacrifice and price we pay, for every patient’s life is priceless.

Medic to Medic provides scholarships to students who are at risk of dropping out of their training as health workers in Africa. Scholarships support yearly tuition fees, a once-a-semester allowance, medical equipment. books, and a laptop: charitable.travel/medic-to-medic

This is a feature from Issue 17 of Charitable Traveller.