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.
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.
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
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.
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!