Post by Joy Kinya Kimathi, a 5th-year medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya who has completed an elective exchange at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences.
I was granted an opportunity to participate in an elective program in the University of Zimbabwe at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Zimbabwe, from the 20th of August to 30th September, 2018 by GEMx. I found this as a great opportunity to learn, a stupendous chance to mingle with new people, explore a new culture, food, and new places. It’s worth noting that Zimbabwe is a vibrant country whose occupants mainly speak Shona and Ndebele, and are amazingly hospitable.
Reception and Accommodation
On arrival at Zimbabwe, I was treated to a very warm reception by the University of Zimbabwe elective office. We were 2 students from Kenya at the time of my elective. Throughout my stay in Zimbabwe, I was accommodated at the Medical residence elective flat within Parirenyatwa hospital grounds. This was a very convenient spot to access the hospital, and I wish to pass my gratitude to the Accommodation office at the University of Zimbabwe for this consideration.
As a prerequisite to working in any clinical area within Zimbabwe, one needs to register with the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MPCZ). This was one of the first exercises that I embarked on just after settling down. The elective office was kind enough to offer transport to the Board’s premises to register with them.
Being a very adventurous person, I explored various departments within the hospital during my elective. These included: Medical Ward, Hematology Department, Urology Department, Oncology Department. I have to admit that I had an awesome learning experience within the institution. The consultants were very enthusiastic and more than ready to impart their knowledge and skills to me. Special thanks to Dr. Marejela (Consultant Physician), for his well-researched discussions crowned with a special sense of humor. Being in your ward round was something each of us looked forward to every single day.
Special thanks to Dr. Mberi (Hematologist Consultant) together with the whole Hematology team, for your dedication to teaching me. Lots of gratitude Dr. Chikore for teaching me how to administer Chemotherapy.
It was a great honor to work with Mr. Dube (Consultant Urologist). His austereness kept us on our toes bringing out the best in us. A shout out to the Oncology team for being one of the most amazing teams to ever work with. I was able to participate in cancer diagnosis, staging, planning of management, radiotherapy, brachytherapy and chemotherapy sessions. Above all the team got to include me in most of their social events making me feel at home.
The junior doctors (JrMOs) in all the departments I rotated in, occupy a special part in my heart. They were not only colleagues but also mentors and probably the greatest friends I’ll ever make within such a short period of time. They shared with me tips on how to navigate around Zimbabwe and were really great chaperones.
In a nutshell, the academic part of my elective was marked with new amazing and interesting exposures. Of special note is the fact that the whole experience sparked in me, a special interest in oncology, a field that I had never ever considered prior to my elective.
Over my stay in Zimbabwe, I got to visit many astounding places. It all began with a tour around the University of Zimbabwe main campus. The institution is located in a vast piece of land, in an exquisitely serene environment at Harare.
Some of my major highlights were: A visit to the agricultural showground, visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Grabbing lunch and dinner with the Zimbabwe Medical Students Associations (ZiMSA), and visiting the Bally Vaughn Animal Sanctuary
Zimbabwe cash crises:
I found myself in the middle of a Zimbabwe Cash crisis right from the time I landed at the airport. The challenge was brought by the fact that I couldn’t withdraw any money from the banks due to acute cash shortage within the country. This was a very unique challenge that I had never anticipated at all. To add insult to injury, some of the swipe machines in the country were not compatible with my visa cards making it almost impossible to pay for accommodation as well as the Board fee. However, I would like to take this chance to thank the UZ elective office for being patient and resourceful in handling any new challenge that came up.
At this juncture, I would also like to pass my heartfelt gratitude to the Kenyan Embassy in Zimbabwe. They went out of their way to enable us to get Hard Cash when all our efforts had hit the wall. God bless you richly.
To any student planning to travel out of their country, make a habit of getting in touch with your embassy on the intended country of travel before leaving your country. Let your embassy advise you accordingly pertaining your travel expectations and expected challenges. This will help with your planning and cushion you from any unanticipated shock.
My trip was amazing. In the beginning, I faced a few strains, but I still got the best out of this elective both academically, socially, and culturally. I greatly appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by GEMx team. I wish to thank everyone who went out of their way to ensure that I had the time of my life. The GEMx initiative is a great one, and I take this opportunity to encourage more and more students to enroll and be part of it.