Dr Wala: The practice of medicine is not for everyone
Are the existing policies in the practice of medicine conducive for both the medical worker and patients? Dr Elizabeth Wala has over 14 years’ experience spanning the fields of health care policies, health system management, pharmaceutical medicine and clinical research.
Are the existing policies in the practice of medicine conducive for both the medical worker and patients?
To practice medicine, there are six major pillars that have to be in place: human resources for health (personnel), the infrastructure to execute the practice (hospitals and other necessary facilities), commodities (consumables such as drugs and oxygen), health information systems (networks used to communicate within the healthcare profession as well as research), healthcare financing (resources being pumped into the system) and finally, good leadership and governance (decision-makers who understand issues in this field). When even one of these pillars is not in place, it means that the practice of medicine is not conducive.
In Kenya, we are in a situation where the human resources do not feel that their welfare is being taken care of. Most times, it is hard to even practice what you trained to do because the environment is not conducive.
We do not always have the right people to represent medics at the policy level because many medical personnel think that positions like these are for politicians. We need to step up and fill these positions so that we do not end up being represented by people who do not understand the issues.
Is this what you wanted to do?
In my time, we did not have proper career guidance. The options for top students such as I was law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, commerce and architecture.
I initially wanted to be a lawyer, although I do not regret studying medicine; I am satisfied when I see the impact that I have in the society in which I operate.
I practiced clinical medicine for six months after which I resigned from frustration and went to work in other areas such as research, pharmaceutical medicine and health care policy when I became the first female and youngest vice chair of Kenya Medical Association and later on the first ever CEO of the Association.
These diverse experiences have made me understand the dynamics of the medical profession better and why it is important to have flexibility about career prospects.
Find interesting experience reports on working as a doctor here.
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