‘Not all angels have wings…some have stethoscopes’

By Kefa Senoga
Dr. Lutakome Joseph is an amiable man. By the end of the day, not even the stress after a long day’s work will show on the face of the specialist physician who works at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala. 

“He always carries himself with the willingness to help his patients by interacting with them in such a way that makes them change their focus from their illness, for a little while,” says Barungi Abigail, for whom Lutakome has been a family doctor.  

Barungi thinks a doctor who understands and relates to their patients’ feelings, and treats them while focusing on their individual needs, would be the most ideal.

The fourth-year student at Uganda Christian University (UCU), pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery course at the institution’s School of Medicine in Mengo, Kampala, says Lutakome “takes his time to explain to patients basing on their level of knowledge and understanding, so they are able to know more about their diseases and how to avoid recurrence.” Through Lutakome’s virtues, Barungi says she was persuaded to pursue a career in human medicine. 

Barungi Abigail says the most ideal doctor is one who understands patient feelings.
Barungi Abigail says the most ideal doctor is one who understands patient feelings.

“The fulfillment that one gets after treating a patient is something I have longed for since childhood, I felt that I would best help those in society through the medical profession,” Barungi notes, as if in agreement with the saying that “not all angels have wings, but some have stethoscopes.”

A successful doctor-patient relationship is one of holistic treatment. According to Barungi, there is nothing more satisfying for a doctor than offering medical help and a patient gets healed. And that is the satisfaction that she yearns when she eventually begins medical practice after school.

Asked about what area she would love to specialize in after undergraduate studies, Barungi points to where she thinks she will be hitting two birds with one stone. When children, especially newborns, are not well, the amount of distress it causes the parents is unfathomable. And that is why she has her eyes in neonatology, which is concerned with the care and treatment of newborns. Barungi hopes that her contribution will, in one way or another, reduce the number of deaths of neonates in Uganda.

She believes that the kind of training she is receiving at the UCU School of Medicine has been a timely exposure not only in the medical field, but also on matters of faith. 

At UCU, Barungi says that she has been able to meet amazing professionals, such as Dr. Gerald Tumusiime, a lecturer in anatomy — the study of the structure of humans, animals and other living organisms. Tumusiime is also the Dean of UCU School of Medicine. 

“He has been like a father and mentor to most of us at the SoM,” she said, adding: “He mentored me in my clinical and non-clinical years, as well as coaching me in life after medical school.”

The mentorship by Tumusiime, Barungi says, is just a continuation of what she has always received from her parents, siblings and godparents. 

She says the schools she attended before joining UCU provided the much-needed holistic education, which does not just emphasize academics, but also discipline, humility and self drive — virtues which have been useful during her course at UCU. For Barungi’s six years of secondary education, she attended Mt. St. Mary’s College Namagunga, one of the elite secondary schools in Uganda. She said Namagunga, a girls-only school, had well-equipped laboratories, which motivated students to appreciate science subjects more. 

When she is away from books, Barungi says she spends her free time with family and friends, as well as participating in medical camps. She also engages in learning more about the business industry, where she says she also has a lot of interest.