Journey to become a doctor…

My first encounter with an ophthalmologist, was in home town of Luanshya.

That was 18 years ago. I was experiencing terrible headaches and I was advised to see an eye specialist.

Unfortunately, there was no eye specialist in my home town of Luanshya. Then I heard from a family friend that Lions Aid International would be offering free eye screening at one of the clinics within Luanshya district.

I got assessed by the only ophthalmologist in the team. He advised me to stop using the glasses I had prescribed for myself in the name of trying to look “cool”. Within a few days of not using these cool glasses, my headaches were gone.

All I remember about this man was that he was tall and soft spoken. Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.

4 years later, in 2004, I entered the University of Zambia (UNZA) and started my journal to become a medical doctor. I had a wonderful time at doing my premed in the School of Natural Sciences at Great East Road Campus.

It was a time of meeting new people and making life changing decisions. It was during this period that I would meet a gentleman who would become one of my closest friends in the name of Alinani Silwamba. ‘Ali’, as I would call him was always eccentric. We met during our first year, as fate would have it, when we went to check out who would be our lab partners for our physics labs. He was wearing a white short that would pass as a boxer. With my reserved personality, it was a sort of enigma how we just clicked and got along.

Entry in Med Quota was highly competitive. In our intake, only 50 students out of close to a 1000 were accepted into Med Quota. Being among the brightest minds in Zambia was a humbling experience.

UNZA had so many challenges. There was a serious shortage of boarding facilities within the campus. 4 and sometimes 6 students would end up sharing a room meant for 2 people.

During my 2 years stay at Great East Road Campus, I had no room and had to stay with different people. That, however, never dampened my spirit. I had to soldier on.

In 2006, we had to move from Great East Road Campus to Ridgeway Campus where the School of Medicine is located.

From third year, school became stressful. The introduction of Physiology, Anatomy, Medical Biochemistry where one had to memorize so many concepts where quite a challenge and very different from what we had been exposed to in 1st and 2nd year. Whereas, getting good grades was a norm in 1st and 2nd year, it was the complete opposite when we reached Med school.

It was somewhat refreshing that at the end of 3rd year we had a course called Community Based Education CBE, where as the name suggests, we had to go for some community attachments. I was with a group that went to Chongwe district, which is located East of Lusaka.

I barely cleared my courses, but clear I did and progressed into 4th year.

4th year we had equally more demanding courses. But all in all, I cleared my course work and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology.

The next chapter follows my life during my clinical years at the University Teaching Hospital…

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