“Daktari Wangu” is Swahili for “My Doctor“.
Welcome to Daktari Wangu, a short Q&A segment that features Kenyan medical doctors in various medical fields and specialties. This weekly Friday feature is intended to help us get to know our doctors better and help demystify an integral part of the Kenyan healthcare system. It also aims to help anyone looking for a medical specialist in Kenya to find one who fits their needs as well as to highlight suitable mentors for our junior colleagues.
What a great way to start your Friday!
This week we have the absolute privilege and honor of featuring Dr. P. Gitobu Mburugu, a Consultant Urologist and Lecturer at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUHN). He is also the Vice Chair of the Kenya Association of Urological Surgeons. Profile
Good morning Daktari and thank you so much for joining is today.
1. To start off, please tell us about yourself and your qualifications
I was born and bred in rural Meru. I schooled at Consolata Primary school, Meru, did my CPE in 1979 and proceeded to The Alliance High School from 1980 to 1985. I spent the 2 year gap period between form six and medical school doing all sorts of things, including farming, potato farming and repairing lorries at a local garage.
I then joined the University of Nairobi Medical School in 1987 and qualified in 1993 as a doctor. I did my internship in Meru District Hospital and also worked there briefly as a medical officer till 1994 when I left for the Tigania Mission Hospital, where I worked till I rejoined the University of Nairobi for postgraduate training in General Surgery in 1997.
I qualified as a general surgeon in 2000, and joined Kenyatta National hospital where I worked in General Surgery and Urology till 2003 when I won the prestigious British Journal of Urology International/ Societe D’Urologie Internationale scholarship to train in Urology in the UK. While in the UK, I sat for and was awarded the Fellowship of the European Board of Urology (FEBU) and the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in Urology (FRCS Urol) in 2006.
I returned home in 2007 and resumed work at KNH as a urologist, and in 2008 joined the Aga Khan University Hospital as a part time lecturer and urologist, positions I hold to date.
2. What drew you to Medicine as a career?
When I was growing up, an Italian surgeon at the Consolata Hospital Mathari, Nyeri, operated on both my mother and grandfather, I met him and was thoroughly impressed, and was immediately sold on to the idea of being a surgeon.
3. Are you primarily in clinical practice, working in a non-clinical field or do you have interests outside of medicine as well?
I am in full time clinical practice at both KNH and AKUHN. I enjoy training others in clinical surgery as well at both institutions and do some administrative duties at KNH as well.
I am also vice chair of the vibrant Kenya Association of Urological Surgeons.
Outside medicine, I am a novice weekend farmer, and a hands-on father to a young Kenyan approaching 2.
4. Briefly describe your typical work day.
I report to the Kenyatta National Hospital at 7am, do some administrative work and then head to either the operating room, outpatient clinic or the wards depending on the day.
On some afternoons, I run clinics and operating list at the AKUHN as well.
5. What do you do with your free time/what are your specific hobbies outside of work?
I spend any free time I have with my family, either at home or at the shamba in Meru. We also enjoy traveling whenever we can.
6. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I must admit I do not have any hobbies as such, but I do enjoy watching comedy shows, reading novels and historical writings.
7. Doctors have been increasingly accused of not heeding their own advice on leading a healthy lifestyle. How do you approach your own personal fitness and nutrition?
I have began taking walks whenever I can, but I do need to do more!
8. What are some of the challenges that you and your colleagues face in the practice of medicine in Kenya today? How do you think some of these challenges can be overcome?
The main challenges in practice in Kenya are mainly economic. Lack of facilities to properly carry out our practice is top of the list.
Most patients cannot afford to finance their healthcare, and as a result most present late when their disease is quite advanced. Poor remuneration of healthcare workers, lack of specialized training within the region and brain drain also affect us heavily.
9.How do you define success and what motivates you?
To me success is being in a position to use my skills to make the life of my patients better, impart skills to my students and go home to a happy wife and children.
My motivation is in achieving all three!
10. What advice would you give to a young person thinking about going into medical school or those currently in medical training now?
Be sure you’re going into medicine because it’s your calling, not a means to an economical end. There are faster and more efficient ways to riches!
If you find that you’re irritated when your work phone rings to summon you to work at 3 am, medicine is not for you. If you’re already in training, count yourself lucky. You have a myriad of free academic resources available to you on the Web. Use them. In our time, we had to buy textbooks, which were all imported and extremely expensive!
Daktari, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today. I am sure someone, somewhere will read this and find motivation for their personal growth.
Finally, for patients and mentees alike, where is your office and how can we reach you?
Mr. P. Gitobu Mburugu,
Consultant urologist and lecturer, KNH and AKUHN.
Aga Khan Doctor’s Plaza, Room 408,
3rd Parklands Avenue.
Tel +254711092761, 0713417633
Asante sana Daktari and enjoy the rest of your day!
I hope we’ve all enjoyed that informative session and look forward to others to come. Feel free to contact me with questions you would like added or answered by your medical professional as we go along. Also include medical doctors you’d like to see featured in future posts. Have a wonderful weekend ahead!
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