Friday, August 17, 2012

Exam Day: T-49...

Many of you may already know this but I have done something crazy. I registered to take the West African College of Physician (WACP) Primary Exam in Pediatrics this October. This is a very difficult exam which one needs to pass to enter the residency program through the West African College.

Why am I doing this? That’s a very good question and one I ask myself often. Believe me, having to study for this exam is quite stressful and I wonder why I am putting myself through this when I could be hanging out with my friends! Since I’ve just done general medicine but love pediatrics (and have been doing pediatrics for the past 7 years) I’ve been contemplating actually specializing in pediatrics. However, it just didn’t seem like doing so in Europe or the USA made much sense. First of all, I’m not too keen to practice in those places, plus it’s not quite as relevant for the situation here. So, since I heard that the WACP is recognized as an equivalent to the Royal College of Pediatrics in the UK, I thought this might be the way to go. Another reason why I’ve chosen this option is because I still want to contribute to improving child health in Sierra Leone, and with that, the postgraduate training program for doctors here. What better way to support the program than to go through it myself and show people this can be done. That’s the idealistic reason behind this of course.

So, it’s another 7 weeks till the exam. This is the first hurdle and a very difficult one. The exam has a 20% pass rate and it’s not because people don’t study. It really is a tough exam. I recently went to Nigeria to attend the update course – a very intense week with about 10 hours of lectures a day and I’m hoping that increased my chances. All I can do is try. I’ll try in October, and if I don’t pass, I’ll give it a go again in April. If I still don’t pass, we’ll just say God has other plans! It’s not like there aren’t any options out there…it’s a matter of figuring out what’s His best plan for me.

I already know that once I master this hurdle there will be many more to come. First of all, our residency program is not established yet, but we are trying. We hope to get the Children’s Hospital accredited early next year through the West African College. This involves making sure we get the digital x-ray system up and running (thanks for donations so far) and improving the laboratory and medical records as well as many other things. We have our work cut out for us! It also means I would start rotating around the hospital and doing on-calls – both frighten me a bit. And it means many more things will come my way that I’ll have to deal with as they come up. It also means staying here for the next few years, which some days excites me and other days really doesn’t. I think the hardest thing for me has been seeing so many friends leave over the past few months…I get tired of doing this ‘on my own’. Even that is something God knows and sees and I truly am thankful for the people He’s brought along my path!

Anyway, for now, I’ll try to study when I can and trust that God will open and close doors along the way.

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