Anatomy of a Meeting
I cancel my trip to the field with the research assistants who are going to one of the communities where refresher courses for community health workers are being held. Then I call Zack and tell him to let me know when he gets back. I come back from the office at noon to wait for him. Zack calls about 1 pm to say he has been delayed but is starting back and should be here in a half an hour. I notify Ephraim.
Ephraim is now out near Queen Elizabeth Park where he is making pre-vists to field sites for the student placements. He won't be back until late tonight. He wants me to go ahead.
"We have talked at length about these things," says Ephraim. "We are on exactly the same page, on the same team. I am with you on whatever you decide."
I have to laugh, as we have certainly talked a lot about our ideas although we have been less adept at moving them forward into action, but I enjoy his support and enthusiasm. I determine I am going to make an effort to have some idea next time that he will totally disagree with. Then I wonder if that is even possible.
At 5 pm Zack arrives. He looks exhausted. His car broke down up in the mountains to the east of Mbarara after he called me to say he was coming and he was out of cell phone contact. The driver had to go by boda-boda (motorbike) down to the highway to collect the part needed. I am stunned that given such a rough day, he still kept this appointment with me about developing interactive training modules. I ask him about his day.
He tells me about the long lines of very sick children he finds at the remote health centers when he visits. Many have only a Nursing Aid, giving out tetracycline or ciprofloxacin. He feels obligated in such a situation to assist in the long lines as well as to teach the Nursing Aids how to better use the drugs.
He talks about the new research project in which he is engaged, about the supervisory visits he makes to the surrounding rural health units and his efforts in putting a Family Medicine curriculum in place at the university. Listening to him, as he recounts his day spent in the field, is like hearing case studies told as traditional stories.
He concludes with the comment that we need to teach the students about how to handle medical mistakes and how to do it as part of a team. He digs into his briefcase to locate the list of 15 possible topics he has prepared for our interactive modules. I jot them down, recognizing many are similar to the ones Ephraim and I came up with. But best of all, I have got some made-to-measure case studies and practical approaches for our interactive training modules from Zack.
Photos: school room; milk depot, sawing logs.