Over 100 newly qualified medical doctors, nurses and pharmacists participated at this year’s 2nd Interns Induction Course hosted virtually on May 12, 2022, by ACHEST in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Health Professions Education Initiative (HEPI) and Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
This was a follow-up of the face-to-face induction course held earlier on April 29th, 2022 which also highlighted the launch of the Handbook for all Health Professions Interns in Uganda.
Similar induction sessions have been hosted for 4years now with the objective of enabling the young professionals to be conversant with the Ugandan health system and the Ministry of Health Vision and Mission; to understand the structure and requirements of public service and quality assurance in the health care system. Other objectives are to ensure that the new cohorts of interns are prepared to work in the Ugandan health system and understand the referral system, job market, career progression and postgraduate training; and how to take good care of themselves to avoid burn out and stress.
In her opening remarks, ACHEST Director Health Workforce Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde reflected on the life cycle of a health worker, the role of internship and how the graduates can use it an opportunity to become fully fledged health professionals. “After internship, you will be expected to be an icon, a health worker that improves health outcomes. Internship can be busy and challenging but it is also be exciting,” stated Dr. Kiguli-Malwadde.
The ACHEST Senior Consultant, Dr. Vincent Ojoome spoke about quality assurance in healthcare with an emphasis on the standards of care and doing the right thing at the right time for the right person. He noted that quality assurance is about continuous improvement – “continuously do things better all the time until they are done right the first time all the time,” he stated
Cliff Aliga, a critical care nurse and Senior Lecturer at Aga Khan Hospital made a presentation on nursing competencies and practices globally. He emphasized ethics and professionalism, accountability, adaptability and communication and the need to mentor and coach junior colleagues. “When we talk about quality nursing, we are talking about patient safety,” he said.
Prof. Richard Odoi Adome, from the Department of Pharmacy at Makerere University presented a paper on medicine use and patient safety. His presentation highlighted the likely causes of medical errors, sometimes resulting from confusion in tradenames of medicines, incorrect prescription, poor handwriting, dispensing errors such as failure to check the patients identity at the counter and irrational combinations to mention but a few.
Many health professions had questions about the public service and this topic was handled by a Ministry of Health Assistant Commissioner Human Resources Management who explained in detail the structures of the government and the health system, as well as the professional conduct expected while at work.
In an era of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is important to reflect the impact it has had on the health workforce . The ACHEST Deputy Executive Director Dr. David Okello spoke about the need for empathy and compassion towards frontline health workers. He noted that during the peak of the COVID 19 Pandemic, they had to work for long hours due to the high number of Covid-19 patients. This is in addition to the existing challenges that the workforce was facing before the pandemic such as poor working conditions. He urged the health professionals to look out for each other in order to avoid mental breakdown and for supervisors to address the problems identified.
The concluding remarks were by the ACHEST Executive Director Prof. Francis Omaswa who reminded that participants that health is a noble profession and they should be proud of joining it. “ Being a health professional, you become part of the global community. You will find easily that you have friends all over the world that you get to know through the high quality of your professional work,” said Prof. Omaswa.
The Interns Induction Course is globally recognized having received an Honorable Mention in the 2020 Health Workforce Resilience Awards by the Human Resources for Health 2030 program