Graduation: Part II

Written by Dr. Judith Lewis, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine

Visually, to punctuate the red earth, tropical green, and drab concrete of the city, there are the bright colors of traditional Ugandan garb: bright and beautiful heavy cotton fabrics forming head wraps and traditional long dresses called gomezi, which are adorned with high shoulder puffs. Dressed in these bright colors, women walk along the roadside with goods expertly balanced on their heads. When it comes to more modern clothing, the main style is best described as tropical island meets Gucci.


Graduation: Part I

Written by Dr. Judith Lewis, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine

As my daughter and I sat in the , once again sweating through our clean clothes and beginning to take stock of our time in Uganda, we were glad to be returning home. Simultaneously, however, we were very glad to have come. We felt privileged to visit the beautiful country of Uganda and to meet its kind, welcoming citizens. Although I had heard a lot about the rotation from prior residents, I realize now that there is nothing that truly prepares you for the experience. I think that is what one of our residents, Megan Gething, meant when she said that our global mental health rotation offers a “visceral” kind of knowing. In psychiatry, we know that there is a cognitive knowing and an emotional knowing, and their conjoining is what we call “insight.”

Being One With the Matoke

Written by Dr. Amanda Lindo, Internal Medicine Resident at Norwalk Hospital

My second week in Uganda marked the beginning of another huge shift. In a flash, my week in Kiruddu Hospital’s Emergency Department was over and I was off to start work in Mulago Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  The only tertiary hospital in the country, and affiliated with Makerere University, Mulago is the most advanced intensive care facility available. The New Mulago Hospital ICU, currently under construction across the street to advance from a seven-bed to twenty-eight-bed unit, will be functional as of September 2018. Despite its small size, the ICU does not disappoint.

The Sun is Particularly Harsh Today

Written by Christina Dawson '21

The sun is particularly harsh today. The intermittent gush of wind usually provides temporary relief despite the swell of red clay that stains my white coat, but today I feel it making a paste on the back of my neck. The day begins with our routine: waiting for Dr. Cathy to greet us as she promptly does every morning around 9. She is late today. I decide to make a quick dash for the restroom, and head towards the only clean one I know in the maternity ward.

Growing Into Comfort

Written by Katherine Callahan '21

This is the first week during which I have noticed a significant change in myself: I am comfortable. That is, during Monday morning rounds, I found myself as less of a bystander and more of an active participant. Over the past two weeks, I have become accustomed to the language, lab tests, patient population, and attending style so much so that I automatically begin to create a differential diagnosis and have an idea of where to start on physical exams. This is the first time I have found myself effectively doing this.

The Quandry of Relaying Experience

Written by Julia Shatten '18

It has been almost two and a half months since returning from Uganda. In the midst of interviews, I work on summing up my experience into a succinct and palatable interview answer: Yes, Uganda was life-changing. Yes, I will go back. It made me view inequity differently. It helped me understand the depth of ethical nuance, and that just because something is hard does not mean we should turn our backs on it. Yes, it was a good experience.

The Ghosts of Makerere Kikoni

Written by Stefan Wheat '18

Our first week in Uganda has been marked by innumerable small adjustments, from learning to be damp most of the time to forcing our guts to wait until 10:30 PM, when dinner is typically served, to eat. However, amidst this period of transition, one of the most endearing and consistent little departures from our lives in Vermont comes on our walks home from Mulago Hospital. Every day we walk home along the same path, identifying the route that would leave us least drenched in our own sweat, and every day we are be greeted by children in our neighborhood of Makerere Kikoni. They grab at us, hold our hands, or often give us  swift pokes to the buttocks before running off giggling. We always indulged the children, oblivious to the reason behind their fascination with our skin until one of our taxi drivers told us us that young children are enthralled by bazungos (foreigners) because they grow up on stories of ghost-white spirits lurking in the forests. As white foreigners, we are likely just novelties for most of these children  but for some we are their childhood stories come to life.

Insights into Empathy

Written by Nikolas Moring '20

I have always seen medicine as a unique way in which to interact with one’s community. Medicine is not only about the care of patients, but also the care of patient families, friends, and the community as a whole. Medicine is the ultimate calling for me in that it provides a means of immersing myself in lifelong learning that can be turned around and given back to the community. Perhaps selfishly, medicine also allows for a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in my work. The sacrifice and selflessness, while daunting at times, harbors a particular allure as I learn to prioritize others before myself.

Remembering Naggalama

Written by Nikolas Moring '20

It’s been a few months since I returned from Naggalama. For better or for worse, I made the decision to leave early, and in doing so prioritized my health and well-being. It was not an easy choice. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out if I was about to squander away one of the best opportunities I’ve ever been given. It can be challenging to admit that you are not strong enough, not resilient enough, or just not cut out to complete the task set before you. That being said, I left a part of me with the people I met in Uganda, and a big chunk of that lives in St. Francis Hospital.

First Experience With Global Medicine

Written by Dr. Swati Patel, resident at the Connecticut Institute for Communities/Greater Danbury Internal Medicine Residency Program

I was interested in science and medicine at a young age. As I grew older, I realized how much I love interacting with people and building relationships. Medicine offered a career for both my talents and interests.  Although I had known about global health prior to college, it was during my undergraduate career that I first learned more about what it entailed. I was part of various school organizations, some of which would take students abroad and offer medical services, though I did not get the opportunity to participate in these  programs.