Years from now, after she completes medical school in the U.S, Risper Kirui ’19 hopes to return to Kenya and practice medicine in her home country. “Since I plan to attend medical school, I wanted to see firsthand what day-to-day life for a doctor in Kenya is like,” said Kirui.
This summer, Kirui is a student intern shadowing doctors in a variety of specialties at the Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet, Kenya. She chose to intern at a referral private hospital instead of at a public hospital, as the latter tend to have strikes among the nurses and doctors due to their being underpaid. Though the delivery of healthcare is crucial to the practice of medicine, Kirui did not want the complicated and unresolved nature of policy to interfere with her technical learning. “I wanted to have a smooth internship period and Tenwek did it for me,” she said.
Unlike many Kenyan hospitals where there typically are just one or two specialists, Tenwek employs cardiologists, neurosurgeons, urologists, gastroenterologists and more. The specialists at the hospital, many of whom are medical missionaries, have offered Kirui a broader range of doctors to shadow. By the end of the summer, Kirui hopes to have rotated through all the departments at Tenwek: Internal Medicine, Surgery, Endoscopy, Obstetrics/ Gynecology, and Ophthalmology.
A typical work day at Tenwek begins in the morning with ward rounds, a review on how the admitted patients are doing. “It is important for me to understand the basics of patient-doctor interaction and observe the characteristics of a good healthcare provider,” said Kirui. When attending to patients, she assists in dressing wounds, taking vital signs (weight, heart rate, BMI) and recording the patient’s medical history.
Hometown: Londiani, Kenya
High School: Moi Girls High School - Eldoret
In addition to forging interpersonal connections with her patients, Kirui has also had the opportunity to observe a variety of surgeries, all performed within the hospital. Thus far, she has witnessed surgeries that range from cesarean sections to wound debridements to craniotomies.
Through her work at Tenwek, one of the best hospitals in Kenya, Kirui has gained a deeper understanding of the comportment and skills characteristic to a successful working doctor, an invaluable experience for her future in medicine. “Being able to shadow the doctors here has given me a clear picture of what medicine entails. Watching them work has filled me with longing for the time when I can provide compassionate service to my community as a doctor,” said Kirui.