Lucas M. Gikonyo

Final year Medical Student – University of Nairobi, Kenya
FACES Migori: October-December 2010

My elective experience at FACES was a memorable one. I had never been to Migori before and I remember the first thing I did upon receiving the confirmation email was to go online to try and locate Migori! I spent a total of 8 weeks with FACES undertaking a clinical elective and in retrospect, those 8 weeks were the best part of my 4th year.

It was an amazing learning experience and a chance for me to fine tune my clinical skills. Most of my time was initially spent in the clinic where we would offer outpatient HIV care services. The patients ranged from the newly diagnosed to those who had been on treatment for years. The joy on the faces of patients upon learning that their CD4 counts were improving is beyond words. Wednesday was the pediatrics day and sometimes it was heartbreaking having to attend to patients so young yet already infected with HIV.Their bravery and determination however always inspired us. The joyous times were when we would inform HIV positive women that their babies’ PCR results were negative; the smiles on their faces were always an inspiration.

Apart from my time at the clinic, we would also conduct ward rounds twice a week in the district hospital together with my supervisors who were qualified doctors. This was a great opportunity for me to put into practice all that I had been learning in medical school. I particularly enjoyed and looked forward to the ward round days. Sometimes my supervisors would let me lead the ward round and this was always a challenge I loved. We would attend to all patients in the ward and not only the HIV patients. This was of benefit since I would then get to see and learn about many other conditions not necessarily related to HIV. After the ward rounds I would stay behind to carry out various procedures such as phlebotomy, lumbar puncture, etc.

Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) was particularly busy. I spent a good deal of time rotating there as well. The FACES staff there was very welcoming and willing to teach me on how to perform the procedure. I started out by assisting in several circumcisions and after a few weeks I was able to perform my first circumcision! My suturing skills were really perfected during my time there. Towards the end of my elective I was able to carry out a mini-evaluation on the timelines of early infant diagnosis (EID) via PCR. I relayed my findings to the FACES team during a CME.

It wasn’t all work at FACES; I had fun too! I would spend most of my afternoons after leaving the clinic playing basketball at a court in the town. My weekends were spent touring Migori and other towns nearby. Migori is just one hour away from the Kenya-Tanzania border and I was able to tour Tanzania as well. My last week of the elective was quite wonderful since I was given the chance to attend a one week seminar in Homabay, a lakeside town about two hours from Migori.

It’s impossible really to put everything down in words. I think I would need to write a book for that! I recommend FACES Migori to any prospective elective student. It’s quite an experience.

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