Grateful that I chose a career in medicine - By Dr. Jane Nannono

Grateful that I chose a career in medicine - By Dr. Jane Nannono


Students continue to graduate from the eleven or so universities in my country during this month of March.  I graduated forty years ago and by then, there was one university: Makerere University. Currently there are six public universities.


Forty years today, I took the Hippocratic Oath to serve and save lives, to protect and promote the health of the people. Since then I have travelled far saving and serving half the years in my motherland and the other half serving in my second home, Botswana.


Apart from family and friends, no one else could be as happy and proud as my teachers and mentors. They always strived to turn us into the best and never missed an opportunity to remind us that they were training us to serve confidently anywhere in the world. Recently I visited two of these selfless men, full of wisdom and foresight, and found them still going strong like the legendary Johnnie Walker. They may not be among the richest men around but they are among the most fulfilled and content. They responded to the call of service to others completely and wholeheartedly. I am the richer for having learned the practice of medicine at their feet.


Had I listened to my teacher of English and Literature at that prestigious girls’ school, Gayaza High School, I would be elsewhere by now. She badly wanted me to be in her Advanced Level class. What saved me was that from the age of eight years I had wanted to take care of people and make a difference in their lives and in the community I would live in.


Once I make up my mind, I do what is in my power to complete it successfully. By that time, there were hardly any role models to look up to and yet I yeaned to become a doctor. I responded to this call with excitement, joy and energy. On the first day in the medical school, I found myself with six other peers, staring at a cadaver on a table. We were to spend the whole year dissecting it. The initial shock wore off and by the end of the week we were too immersed in the dissection to be bothered by the formalin fumes irritating our eyes.


When the lecturers spelt it out clearly to us that every little thing we did mattered in our future career and that every small step we took be it a simple weekly test was progress, I just rolled up my sleeves and delivered. The final year was a period of anarchy and uncertainty in our country but still we persevered to graduate on the 18th March, 1977!


One morning after graduation, when I came across a group of women forming a ring around one of their own – like female elephants - desperately calling out for help by a heath worker, I just put my bag down and delivered the baby by the road side. Thankfully, HIV/AIDS was not yet part of our world.


The challenges continue up to today and demand that I become more innovative and creative than before. I know for sure that if I continue to work with passion, I cannot lose myself.


 I have grown and matured and learned that I cannot do everything or be everything to all people so I have to choose where to help other than burn out. I can give my share of caring to the community by becoming a member of a team.


I could not have reached this far without God’s guidance and the love and support of family, friends and colleagues. We are given to each other to be there for each other. What I do has ripple effects in their lives and vice versa.


Practicing medicine all these years has rewarded me in many ways apart from seeing someone who was brought in the hospital in a wheelchair, walk out unsupported days later. It gifted me with confidence from the student days. I developed the confidence to know who really I am, knowing my strengths, weaknesses and limitations. They say: Confidence is real power. It demanded me to be disciplined and organized, to be compassionate and generous. I have been a voracious reader since childhood but the practice fans this fire and allows me to remain up to date and relevant in a rapidly changing world of the digital era.


As for the challenges especially when practicing in a poor country like ours, there are truck loads of them. They demand for patience, understanding as well as innovation and creativity. Lives have to be saved with the little resources available to you.

Looking back, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I am so grateful that I followed my bliss- still doing something I chose myself donkey years ago. Whenever the going got tough, the yearning in my heart would sail me through. On fulfilling this yearning in my heart, I have become my true self-whole and connected. This has enabled me to engage in my work fully and the world around me. The job has become satisfying and rewarding and I am using it as a platform to reach out to the disadvantaged in my community. I become more content with my life daily as I do my work and live my life for others as well. I am taking my responsibility of leaving the world a better place than I found it seriously.


Now that I have been there and done that, I can advise the newly graduated to be strong and determined to choose the career they want for themselves and then do it wholeheartedly. No joy can compare with living life while doing what you love and enjoy. It ceases to be work and becomes fun.


Live a life that inspires the young ones to want what you have for themselves. Max Lucado reminds you of your uniqueness: “You are the only you God made. God made you and broke the mold.”


Shannon L . Alder says : “One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being you.”


Step into the real world with our blessings. Listen and learn and communicate gently and effectively.

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