Medical course exposes Sharma to challenges of profession

By Pauline Luba
When Sharma Yash Pareshkumar was admitted to Uganda Christian University (UCU) to pursue a degree in human medicine, it brought him closer to realising his dream of wearing the white coat. However, events that unfolded soon after left him with more questions than answers if, indeed, he had made the right decision to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

As early as Senior Three, Sharma had made up his mind to pursue a career in medicine. He says his interest was supported by the fact that he was generally performing well in science subjects.

Sharma’s early years of study at UCU, however, exposed him to the real challenges met by many who are pursuing the course, as well as those already practising it. Some staff members lost the battle to Covid-19. He says the passing on of the staff made him fully understand the path that medical practitioners have to tread — even during a pandemic of a contagious disease like Covid, as others are retreating to safer environments, health workers have to take the frontline positions to save communities.

And that was not the only challenge. More recently, the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda also deepened his perspective on the duty of the medical personnel. When the Ugandan government announced the outbreak of Ebola on September 20, the 24-year-old was at Mulago Hospital during his class’s scheduled rotation of the ward rounds. He said like anyone else, it was a scary experience, since he was at the country’s main referral hospital. According to the World Health Organisation, 19 medical workers contracted the virus in Uganda, with seven of them losing the battle. Of the 142 confirmed cases, 55 died. However, on January 11, the country was declared Ebola-free.

As a first-year student in 2019, Sharma says studies took up almost his entire time. Matters were even made worse by the kind of grades he obtained, which he said did not reflect the amount of time he was devoting to the course. However, with time, faith, planning and more reading, Sharma says his grades progressively improved. 

“I enjoy breaking down difficult things. In my time here, I have gained confidence, a better attitude and shifted from being impulsive to being calm,” says Sharma, a Ugandan of Indian descent and a son of Sharma Paresh, an engineer and Mrs Sharma Damayanti, an accountant.

He attended Buganda Road Primary School, Makerere College School for his O’level and Mengo Secondary School for his A’level. Sharma says he learned about UCU through a friend who was already studying at the institution. The year-four student, a Hindu by faith, said he was drawn to the university because of the similarities between its core values and his religious beliefs.

“I related the university’s core values to my faith. As much as you can find differences in religion, some values relate, like the belief and worship of God, humility and faith. I believed UCU would be the perfect environment for me to study in,” Sharma explained as he defended the choice of the university. 

He says sometimes he attends fellowship at the university because, according to him, the teachings are universal. 

Once he becomes doctor, Sharma hopes to be part of a campaign against anxiety because he believes the condition has hindered many people from achieving their full potential.