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My motivation to practice medicine started in 2012 after I was involved in a road traffic accident and sustained injuries and was admitted at a hospital in my home town for a couple of weeks. While admitted, I  had a roommate who was terminally ill, he had been diagnosed with leukaemia and I could watch the nurses and doctors treat him. 

Name: Japheth Maina
Occupation: Clinical officer

Speciality: Critical Care and Emergency
Place of work: Mission-based Hospital
Years of practise: 5 Years 

ESTHER: Briefly, tell us, who is Japheth?

Japheth: I was born and raised in Kerugoya, Kirinyaga county. I schooled in Kerugoya Good Shepherd’s Primary school and Kianyaga High School for my secondary education before proceeding to KMTC Embu to pursue clinical medicine. 

ESTHER: What was your greatest motivation behind medicine?

Japheth: My motivation to practice medicine started in 2012 after I was involved in a road traffic accident and sustained injuries and was admitted at a hospital in my home town for a couple of weeks. While admitted, I  had a roommate who was terminally ill, he had been diagnosed with leukaemia and I could watch the nurses and doctors treat him. 

One day, he experienced difficulties in breathing since fluid had accumulated in his chest and the doctors wanted to insert a tube in his chest. I was curious on how they’d do that and sat close to watch as the doctors performed the procedure and at some point the doctor asked me to assist with the procedure. Even though it was just holding up the tube as he stitched, after the tube was in and the fluid flowed down the tube and the patient started making deeper breaths I felt so good alleviating the suffering and being of help. 

Unfortunately, the patient died during my hospital stay but I still felt the urge to go out there and help others the same way I was helped after my accident.

ESTHER: Wow, that was so passionate of you. Tell us, have you tested your motivation?

Japheth: I would say my motivation has been tested everyday and from the responses I  get from my patients  especially the elderly after treating them  is more fulfilling and satisfying than the salary I get at the end of the month. 

ESTHER: Great. What else would you have practised if you were not accepted in a medical school?

Japheth: If I  would not  have been accepted in medical school I would have probably ended in some sort of service career. I always wanted to be a chef in my high-school years.

ESTHER: That’s another amazing course. How do you see the future with your medical course?

Japheth: I’m excited to see how I will use my medical education being a role model to other clinical officers and HCPs and also nurture them in any capacity.

I see myself lecturing as well! 

I also envision other HCPs and medical companies coming together  to play a vital role in improving the healthcare system 

ESTHER: That’s comprehensive. Which other field would you want to pursue and why? 

Japheth: I would want to pursue emergency and critical care medicine, it is a field that has not really been explored much in this country and Africa as a whole. A field that could save so many people in acute distress from injuries or diseases.

ESTHER: Amazing. Now, to your character and personality. How have you been able to balance between work-related stress and personal time? 

Japheth: I manage work stress by trying as much as possible not to bring my work home. For time management I always try to do what I can when I can.. Balancing family and work isn’t so difficult for now since I am not married or have a family of my own.

ESTHER: What do you do for fun?

Japheth: For fun I watch movies and  listen to music.  Am currently cultivating a reading habit.

ESTHER: And have these activities helped manage stress?

Japheth: Yes, indeed. Music helps me relieve anxiety and stress. It has also helped me work effectively!

ESTHER: Awesome. Has your family played any role to influence your decision in pursuing clinical medicine?

Japheth: My family didn’t really push me to practice medicine, they were a little sceptical at first but they still supported me throughout school and as I practiced.

ESTHER: What are the achievements you have made in your years of practise?

Japheth: Although my career source is still young, I have managed to get some extra accreditations in line with my course from doing some short courses both online and in normal classes.

ESTHER: What are the experiences you’ve had working with sick people?

Japheth: My experience working with sick people has had its ups and downs. It gets really sad when I lose a patient regardless of doing my best while treating them. And it’s really exciting and rewarding when I  see a patient get better and walk home, especially children.

ESTHER: Tell us, what really excited you about medicine?

Japheth: What excites me the most is seeing people recover from their ailments or when the quality their lives improves after medical intervention.

ESTHER: Do you keep yourself updated with current medical trends? How?

Japheth: I update myself with current trends from reading articles especially from pubmed and uptodate and attending CMEs at the hospital

ESTHER: What are the challenges you have encountered working in Kenya healthcare system?

Japheth: Some of the biggest challenges in the health sector are the demotivation of health workers from remuneration to poor working environment, expense incurred by patients in their pursuit of quality health care and the little presence of health facilities especially in the rural areas.

ESTHER: How do you think these challenges should be addressed? 

Japheth: These challenges could be addressed by the government especially the County governments that have a clear sense of the problems on the ground and they  should stop politicising health care just to get themselves in power

ESTHER: What is the future of healthcare in Kenya and East Africa? 

Japheth: The vision for health care in the  country and the East Africa region has a long way to go but there has been a growth especially in the private sector where you don’t have to travel out of the region to get specialised medical services and it would be great if we could have the same services within the country

ESTHER: Thank you so much for your time Japheth.

Written by Esther Mugo.

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