Thursday, November 22, 2012

HMEF Student Prizes at MUST

Friday was taken up with examining the 40 multidisciplinary student groups who did rural field placements at Mbarara University of Science and Technology.  Examiners in 6 groups of 4-5 faculty members listening intently as 6 - 7 student groups provided their projects and findings for 15 minutes followed by 10 minutes of questions.  The marking grid was long and complex with students required in a short time their challenge model, the fishbone analysis, the activities they undertook and why.
All the student groups who presented to our group involved all members of their groups.  Questions were often fielded by several of the students with all of them intent in showing the most appropriate chart or info to back up the answer.  Their enthusiasm was apparent as was their commitment to being part of the team. 
The Leadership Development Program at MUST involves some advance training prior to going to the field, not only for the students but also for the faculty.  The faculty workshops include the field preceptors and because of their focus on leadership have been instrumental in engaging MUST faculty with the rural placements.  Nursing, Laboratory, administrative, Physiology faculty enthusiastically supervise the placements and take part in the examination that occurs at the end.  In my experience this involvement across all faculties is almost unheard of in Medical School.  When I asked several faculty why they were so committed to community field work, they said straight off that they found it a chance to build and develop their own leadership skills. 
This faculty-wide commitment owes a lot to the originator of the Leadership Development Program, Dr. Samuel Maling, the assistant dean at MUST.  His interest in the rural placements began when he was one of the few field supervisors used in the early days of the program and spent time in a Batwa community near the Rwanda border.  It was clear when I talked to him shortly after this experience that he saw the tremendous potential of the field placements not only for students but for staff.  Since then he has introduced the LDP program, seen it extended to field preceptors and watched the program flourish.
The other key people in the rural field placement program are Gad Ruzaaza, the coordinator of the Community Based Program and his assistant Moses Ntaro.  I have worked with Gad for since I first started going to Mbarara more than ten years ago.  In the early days when my visits coincided with the field placements, I would stay at Rugazi with the students, so I too know how powerful these learning experiences are for the students.  Gad has watched the program grow and expand, always interested in incorporating new ideas and new people.  His enthusiasm and dedication have never wavered.
It is exciting to see the program flourish.  This year we have received a small grant from the Hillman Medical Education Fund that will allow us to provide cash prizes to be used for presenting their experience to the top three groups.  To choose the top three groups, each of the 7 faculty groups of markers select their top student group.  These seven “top” groups gather the following day to make their presentations to the HMEF Award Judges.  I am one of those judges, along with Moses Ntaro, Angella Tumuhimbise, a community facilitator, a member of the nursing faculty, Dr. Wilfred Arubaku, head of curriculum development committee and  a physiology faculty member.
The student groups draw lots for the order of presentation.  They are nervous at first but rapidly gain their feet.  The charts are put up and taken down swiftly as one member presents.  To keep it on a level field no computers have been allowed.  Many of the winning groups have clear, colourful charts and several have photos that have been blown up. 
For some reason it appears that pit latrine covers have been a popular intervention as three of the groups not only used them but have provided labelled examples that were used.  During question period I probe several groups on why latrine covers were chosen but fail to uncover the appreciation for community development which I seek. 
All the groups who have presented are wonderful and it is difficult to chose winners.  But finally we come up with a 1st prize   2nd prize and 3rd prize.
Congratulations to all the student groups and most especially to the Community Based Program at MUST!



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3:46 AM  

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