I’m a student at North Western University of Health and Applied Sciences here in Zambia, studying clinical medicine and I’ve just completed my first semester of year one.
University has been everything for me. I remember the first day I walked into class, the room was big and wide filled with different faces, I was very shy, scared, and just didn’t want to make any mistakes. The fact that I was coming from an all boys’ school and having to suddenly learn with girls seemed like a very strange and weird concept to me.
So far, university life has turned out to be very different to high school. Nobody to tell me how to live my life, how to spend my money, how to behave, or what to do. I had seven roommates, three of whom I could say were chilled, and four who acted crazy and spoilt. I quickly learned that the secret to being or staying grounded was to “stand on your own”, stay focussed, and not get influenced by the four spoiled roommates.
As the days went by, I realised that I had to work extra hard to be among the top five best students of the class, with that I can say REALLY it has been a tough and stressful period for me. Sometimes I could study and crack the night, yet I would not even be amongst the top 10. I got very frustrated if my classmates got better grades than me. But after months of hard work, I was very pleased to be ending the semester in the top five best students of the class, coming in at number four.
After four months we had to do our practices at Mwinilunga General Hospital. Our objective was to do basic nursing procedures.At first, I did not like it there, the hospital was of course clean, with welcoming staff, but there were some challenges. There was a language barrier, because the people in Mwinilunga speak Lunda, which I don’t speak, so it was quite difficult to communicate with most of the patients. Only the staff and some patients could speak English. The market was 15 kilometers away from the house we were living in, and there were fourteen of us guys having to share one toilet and bathroom. Believe me it was hectic. Anyway moving on to the best and good things I enjoyed. Every morning when I reported for work I had to bed make, dumb dust, decontaminate all the surgical instruments, update the emergency tray and lastly do the kardex. Kardex are the patient files that have to be updated every morning until a patient is discharged. I had fun and really enjoyed it because I was so anxious and just wanted to work. My favourite part was when the time came for the whole group (class) to take the vitals and give medication. The language barrier was a big obstacle, and because of that, I was forced to learn the basics, which definitely paid off. I had a chance to wound dress and suture two patients, which was quite an experience. I also did IM (intramuscular) and IV (intravenous) drug administration. Lastly, I visited the labour/maternity ward where I witnessed three women giving birth.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time there. Pineapples were like staple food, as were avocadoes. We left the Hospital with only good reports, no complaints from both the patients and staff.
Now that I’m done with the first semester, my focus for next year is to learn history taking (screening) and pharmacology so that when the time comes again for us to do our practices it will be easy for me to prescribe medication for the patients.
WHAT A WONDERFUL AND AWESOME YEAR IT HAS BEEN FOR ME!