Visas and tickets, classmates turned friends, winter now springtime, exams and projects. Wait!!! Exams and projects??? But of course. One more term and we’ll be on the last lap. One of our lecturers had aptly predicted the total conversion of what she termed “any remaining hard core, unflinching clinicians amongst us” to faithful disciples of public health at the start of the term. So we were all curious to see how things would play out.
This term was even more intense than the last. The first 5 weeks (C modules) dealt with public health issues surrounding childhood and non-communicable eye diseases and went quite smoothly. And the last 5 (D-modules)? The emphasis was on the actual planning, implementation and evaluation of eye care programmes. I would have considered them nightmarish if they hadn’t been so much fun. (How is that even possible?). The whole term was a marathon of life lessons because they hardly felt like lectures: seminars, role plays, practical and theoretical exercises, group works, field trips and a series of summative assessments. I finally came to the conclusion that just maybe this term was a well-disguised exercise on time management and multitasking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all got extra credits seeing as we all made it through? A couple of friends did pull some all-nighters just to beat the deadlines but in this case the end undoubtedly justifies the means.
We got to tackle real-life scenarios such as:
• How do you get 17 pairs of grimy adult hands clean with less than 500mls of water? Simple. The LEAKY CAN can do wonders (see picture below if your name is still Thomas)
• How do you decide which health promotion medium will work best, for instance, in a remote fishing community? Radio, television, comic books? We finally settled for radios after a long drawn-out argument, depending on who your target audience is in this particular setting. They are apparently quite popular. In fact I used to have one of those small transistor types back in my med school days that used to drive my roommates crazy. I actually once caught them plotting to drown it!
• How do you maximise your limited resources to plan and implement an effective and sustainable eye care programme? Apply all the skills you have acquired all through the course. Even the tiniest of details can make a big difference in outcome.
And my favorite:
• How do you emerge from 10 grueling weeks of physical and mental exertion feeling like you can take on the world? Get yourself classmates like mine.
The last day of term coincided with our departmental project proposal presentation which had everyone feeling quite anxious that all should go well. Although some people tried to pretend they weren’t fazed, I have evidence of a certain friend that resorted to push-ups just before it was his turn to present. (I won’t put that picture up just because I am peace-loving and would like to avoid all possible opportunities for future litigation). It turned out to be a really helpful exercise as we all got great feedback from the members of staff that formed the panel.
And to cap up a lovely term, our future “minister of health” invited us to a lunch cum picnic-in-the-sun which she had privately put together with two other classmates. There’s definitely something exhilarating about forgetting about assessments and workloads for an hour or two and just enjoying delicious home-made recipes in the sun…
PS: Dear Lecturer, I think your prediction was on point.