We’re still in Africa, guys! This time we’re looking at what med school is like in what was once Northern Rhodesia– Zambia! Completely landlocked by seven (seven!) countries, Zambia is known for it’s beautiful landscapes with locations such as Victoria Falls and its many national parks. But guess what, it has brilliant med students as well- we’ll meet one today! Let’s see what Evelyn has to say!
- Introduce yourself! I am Evelyn Eselina Phiri (@phiri8207). I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in Zambia- Livingstone in particular. I am in the second semester of my first year of Medicine at the University of Lusaka. Life in Zambia is not easy… in fact, in the medical area a lot needs to be done, like improve medical facilities- but in terms of medical personnel, a lot of people aspire to the medical field. The standard of life is not bad but things can be difficult for those who are not well privileged. Zambians on a whole are hospitable, nice and welcoming, love dancing and we are a country of lots of opportunities and potential.
2. Why did you choose medicine? Or did medicine choose you? I feel that life is centred on health, and being healthy is a need of all men and women. As a matter of fact, I am actively involved in campaigns supporting menstrual health and reducing #periodpoverty. That being said, my desire to be helpful to other lives drove me to choose medicine: the passion to be useful and preserve the dignity of life…to save and protect life. ☺️☺️
3. Did you always want to study medicine in Zambia? What’s the story there? I would have loved to study elsewhere given a chance, but since this is the opportunity that I managed to hold on to, I’m still happy and thankful.
The situation here has caused a growing propensity or desire for many to commit themselves to the medical field, but of course a lot must be done to get to another level of professionalism and proficiency.
4. How do you apply for medical school in Zambia? At the high school level, one needs to have attained 6-10 credits to qualify for med school and international students need to have A levels (Advanced studies- distinctions or merits) and other relevant documents. A high school graduate will then need to apply to a natural sciences programme at a government university like University of Zambia (Unza), Copperbelt University (CBU) one of the oldest universities in my country. One can also apply for the pre-medical foundation course (same applies to advanced studies) at a private university like University of Lusaka or Mulungushi University.
You can enter medical school directly without passing through pre-med if you have a degree in a biological science or biochemical science.
5. What does medical school entail there? It takes 7 years of study and one year of internship to qualify as a medical doctor (two years is for natural sciences and five years of medical studies). I personally recommend the University of Zambia, which is one of the oldest schools in the country and best place to study medicine.
6. What’s the normal professional trajectory after graduating from medical school in Zambia? No medical graduate is allowed to practice medicine in Zambia without doing internship in Zambia, even if they’ve already done internship in their own country. Internship in Zambia is 18 months for those who studied medicine in Zambia and 24 months for those who studied abroad. After internship, you can do a residency for specialization. Residency programmes are usually 4 years per programme and it’s free of charge if one decides to do the specialty training programme Zambia.
7. What does a normal day look like for you? I wake up at 4am and study until 7am. My classes begin at 9am and end at 4pm. From 5pm-6pm I prepare my dinner and wash up then from 7pm-11pm I study. At 11pm I go to bed.
But every Friday is a half day, so I exercise in the evening and on Saturday morning.
8. What do you do to destress? I have number of things that i do to destress. I exercise through running, jogging or yoga, I go swimming with friends, night walks, taking sunset photos and being in nature… sometimes I go out for a meal or drink with friends or by myself. I play music that helps me get over my pain and share my feelings in confidence to a friend, or I write down my experience.
9. If you could give advice to yourself in your first year of medicine, what would you say? Medicine is an interesting journey of service and beautiful adventure in human love. Continue to be strong, and keep building the character of a good doctor.
10. What do you hope life looks like for you in the next ten years? I aspire to be a gynaecologist or surgeon but I also have an interest in anesthesiology. My personal goal is to be a humanitarian doctor and share a loving experience with each life I encounter.
Thanks to Evelyn for being apart of our International medicine #Zambia?? edition! Follow her on Instagram at @phiri8207 and tell us where else you want us to go for our series! Leave us your suggestions in the comments!