Recognizing the huge physician shortage in Uganda and throughout Africa, GEC is training nurses and clinical officers to provide quality emergency care appropriate to the settings where they practice.
The students are trained as ECPs. In the US, they would be called nurse practitioners or physician assistants. ECPs can be trained in 2 years, whereas it would take nearly a decade and a much greater cost to train physicians to do the same tasks. Patients dying in Uganda do not have time to wait.
I've been in Uganda for nearly 3 months assisting the ECP trainers with teaching and curriculum development. I have been impressed with the knowledge and skill levels of the trainers and students. The students are energetic and eager to learn practical skills and put them to use.
For example, two weeks ago we had a simulation of a mass casualty incident where multiple critical patients come to the Emergency Department (ED) at the same time. The students were taught to triage and prioritize care, and to organize and lead others involved.
Approximately an hour after this teaching session, a student found me in the lecture room and hurriedly exclaimed “there’s a mass casualty.” I couldn’t believe it.
I walked to the ED and learned that a truck had turned over. Multiple patients were brought in at once. Just as had been simulated, the patients were kept close together with supplies in the middle. An entire team was working together with the group being coordinated by one of the ECP trainers, Alfunsi.
The students quickly and calmly assessed the patients in a stepwise approach and addressed their critical needs. The scenario went just as practiced and all the care was provided by the ECPs. I did not join in, because I did not need to.
Giving Ugandans the skills, the tools, and the knowledge to take care of Ugandans is what GEC does, and does well. I have seen it in action.
Randall Ellis, MD, MBA, MPH
GEC Global Health Fellow