Ugandan students gain, give insights on health care and culture

GH Ugandan students 2015Brian Esele and Joseph Makoba returned to Uganda this summer after a medical rotation in Iowa with new friends, new health care insights and wonderful memories. Esele also accumulated a notebook full of lessons learned.

“I was struck by the level of professionalism and the role that family medical providers play in patient care,” he said during his final week in Des Moines.

Makerere University medical students have visited Des Moines University and Iowa since 2009 for rotations in the DMU Clinic and at Mercy Medical Centers in Des Moines and Sioux City. Several DMU students have experienced rotations in Uganda, too. During their rotation, Esele and Makoba observed “really good” interactions between physicians and nurses, the application of osteopathic manual medicine and the practice of some physicians to always ask patients whether they have questions about their care.

“Patients in Uganda don’t ask too many questions. The doctors rush through appointments because they may have a hundred more patients to see,” Makoba said. “I had the impression from movies that in the emergency room, everyone would be running around, but it’s not like that. It’s very organized.”

The two men also saw patients with “lifestyle diseases,” including alcoholism and addiction to narcotics, something they hadn’t observed in Uganda. They noted the value of medical tests frequently performed in America but saw how they’re part of the nation’s “defensive health care system.”

Both in the U.S. for the first time, Esele and Makoba said they chose the DMU rotation in part because of the recommendations of other Ugandan students as well as the rotation’s host family, Barb and Fred Hofferber, who have welcomed the students in their Des Moines home for several years. The couple enjoys taking them to attractions and events in the city and beyond.

“The fact we have a host family has made everything way more convenient and relaxing,” Makoba said. “We didn’t have to worry about lodging or food. It’s been a great lifestyle opportunity.”

“I will always remember the Hofferbers hosting us,” Esele added. “I learned so many things during this rotation.”

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