Navigating medicine journey with purpose and resilience

By Jimmy Siyasa

In the bustling streets of the Kyebando suburb of Kampala, and under the nurturing gaze of his parents, Mr. Deruku Luiji and Mrs. Asumpta Peace, Candia Godwin Ivan’s journey into the world of medicine began. 

Born in Arua, Uganda, Candia’s early experiences in life were marked by a profound loss when in the capital city suburb at age five. At that tender age, he tragically lost his younger sister to a febrile illness. It was a moment that would shape his destiny and ignite the flames of his commitment to the field of medicine.

Today, Candia stands as a beacon of hope for the people of Arua. A ministerial Policy statement for the Financial Year 2022/23 cited failure “to attract and retain specialized doctors” as a major challenge facing hospitals in the district, namely the Arua Hospital. One reason is that the district is over 300 miles from Kampala, where most professionals prefer to practice due to the vastness of opportunities and also the comparative lucrativeness of the trade.

After graduating as part of the pioneer medicine class of Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Medicine (SoM) in July, the medical doctor has now embarked on his Medical Internship at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH). Candia’s story is one of determination, passion, and a deep-rooted desire to use his skills to transform healthcare and make a lasting impact on his community.

Early Influences and Ambitions
From a young age, Candia’s love for medicine was evident. The loss of his sister instilled in him a profound belief that he should dedicate his life to saving lives. As he matured, particularly in his early 20s, his fervor for leveraging social impact to enhance healthcare grew stronger. His passion for medicine was not only a personal calling but also a response to the pressing healthcare needs of his community.

His decision to pursue medicine was influenced by a deep-seated desire to help others and his passion for science, which he recognized as an ever-evolving field. He notes that part of the seed was planted in his high school days at St. Mary’s College Kisubi “which had such a resourceful library.” 

“That is where my love for science grew much more, especially in the biological field,” he said.

If not for medicine, Candia contemplated a career in Software Engineering, a testament to his versatile interests and the breadth of his intellectual curiosity.

Candia’s pursuit for quality medical training brought him to UCU, where he would embark on a rigorous five-year journey filled with challenges and triumphs. He revealed that he had been closely following the law school and based on that success believed the medical school could be the same. 

The rigorous demands of the medical school curriculum meant immense mental energy to maintain this pattern for five years. Candia’s love for learning made the journey more manageable, and he credits his ability to balance his work and social life, as well as engaging in discussions with peers, for making the learning process easier.

In the midst of study rigor, Ivan remembers the weekend activities reserved for some adrenaline rush drawn from watching Premier League football in his hostel room.

Charting a Future in Medicine
Now, as he embarks on his medical internship and plans for the future, Ivan is uncompromising in his commitment to serving his community. His next steps include gaining more experience through work and pursuing a master’s degree in plastic and reconstructive surgery. His vision extends beyond personal success; he aspires to collaborate with other healthcare workers to conduct extensive health education within his hometown of Arua. 

This initiative aims to influence social habits, which are the primary contributors to disease and illness. Candia’s ultimate goal is to ultimately roll out free or at least affordable community health services. 

“If everything proceeds as planned, I intend to organize screening camps and eventually establish a nonprofit health facility to serve the Arua communities,” Candia says. 

Candia’s faith is an essential part of his life and work. As a Christian, he draws inspiration from the teachings of the Bible, where Jesus healed the sick and helped those in need. These teachings drive him, giving him a sense of purpose and meaning in his work as a medical professional.

One notable aspect of Candia’s journey was his leadership role at the UCU School of Medicine (SoM). This experience helped him develop crucial skills, including time management, communication, presentation, confidence, and critical thinking. These skills were instrumental in his academic excellence and continue to shape his professional life as a medical doctor.

Being the first medicine graduate in his family, the story of Candia Godwin Ivan serves as an inspiring testament to the power of determination, purpose, and faith in shaping a future where healthcare reaches the most vulnerable.