Improving Newborn, Infant, and Child Health in Uganda

Seed Global HealthBlog, Featured, Medicine, Uganda

Three years ago, Dr. Lisa Rynn worked as a visiting pediatric lecturer at Gulu University and Lacor Hospital in Uganda through the Seed Global Health/Global Health Service Partnership. This month, Lisa returned to Uganda to work as a Seed Educator at Busitema University and spoke to us about her experience.

Could you tell us a little bit about your experience as a visiting lecturer at Gulu University and Lacor Hospital?

I gave lectures and clinical teaching to the 3rd and 5th year students during their pediatrics rotations. I also helped support the interns and medical officers working in the pediatrics ward at Lacor Hospital.

On most days, my experience was a mix of overwhelming, humbling, and rewarding. There always seemed to be a lot of things I wanted to accomplish in the day, students to teach, and patients to see. The lack of resources and staff, acuity of patients, and child mortality were all really overwhelming. However, every day there were small victories. When I looked around, I would see children that had been admitted while very ill, recovering and going home to be with their families. I was always humbled by the dedication of some of my Ugandan colleagues and by what could be done with the limited resources that were available. The students wanted to learn and I could see them improving. That was rewarding.

What moment are you most proud of as an educator?

Dr. Lisa Rynn holding one of her favorite NICU babies

There are a lot of moments that I am proud of but toward the end of my time in Gulu, I congratulated one of the interns I had been working with on successfully resuscitating an infant. He responded not by thanking me for the compliment, but by thanking me for teaching him how.

What did you learn from your time at Gulu University and Lacor Hospital that informed your work in the U.S.?

The students constantly motivated me to read and learn more and try to be better. In the end, I am sure that I learned far more than I was able to teach. I became better at physical exam skills, less dependent on laboratory investigations, and more appreciative of the resources that are available to us. I became more culturally aware. Mostly, I hope I became a better teacher.

What inspired you to return to Uganda as a Seed Educator?

It’s the hardest job I have ever loved and I missed it! For all of the challenges and frustrations, there are many more moments of meaning and rewards. I believe in the mission and vision of Seed. Even though I don’t assume to be making any huge impact, I do think that being present and taking small steps is important.