SoM writers’ association drives students towards scientific writing

By Kefa Senoga
As a medical writer, one needs to be familiar with healthcare concepts, to be able to decode and present research data, as well as have the abilities to edit and meet the requirements for publishing. As the President of the Writers’ Society at Uganda Christian University (UCU)  School of Medicine (SoM), Namayanja Christabel is fully aware of this. 

The fifth-year medical student at UCU’s SoM notes that medicine and writing go hand in hand. 

“If you really want to be a doctor of international repute, one way of getting known is through publishing papers, writing articles in journals and other platforms,” she said.

One of Namayanja’s duties as the Writers’ Society president is to inspire students to think about scientific writing, as well as facilitating connections with professionals and organizations involved in clinical research and clinical content publication.

Efforts like these have made entities like the International Journal of Clinical Research (IJCR) express interest in working with the writers’ team, raising hopes for potential future projects. According to the IJCR website, the journal “publishes high-quality, open-access, peer-reviewed articles, and interactive clinical content for physicians, educators, and the global medical community.”

When most students join the SoM writers’ association, their initial thinking, which was much the thinking of some of the association’s original torch bearers, is to focus on creative writing. However, the school has often encouraged them to participate in science writing, as it aligns more closely with their field of study.

Namayanja Christabel, the UCU SoM writers’ association president
Namayanja Christabel, the UCU SoM writers’ association president

And to do that, they constantly need coaching and mentorship from the field’s tried and tested professionals. Patty Hustom-Holm, the Communications Director at Uganda Partners, is one such mentor. Namayanja attributes the improvement in their recently published newsletter to Huston’s invaluable feedback and advice during an online meeting after reviewing one of their earlier newsletters. 

Each member of the UCU SoM writers’ association pays sh50,000 ($13.20) per year as membership fees. The money is used for meeting administrative costs of the association and producing a newsletter every semester.

According to Namayanja, the association members could have engaged in more activities related to writing had it not been for their current rigorous school programs. In year five, the students are more engrossed in intense clinical practice, in addition to theoretical work, which requires long hours of study, justifying that some of them belong to the association purely out of passion.

Namayanja is known for her ardent interest in writing. At Gayaza High School located in central Uganda, where she had her secondary education, Namayanja espoused skills in writing, reading and social interaction, with the latter getting reinforced as she served in different capacities as a student leader in the school. She was at one time the editor-in-chief of the school’s writers’ club. 

The experience she garnered in the writers’ club at Gayaza are credited for her leadership ladder climb at the UCU SoM writers’ association. And she does not hope to have her passion end at school. Namayanja aspires to be more than a practicing clinician, with a career in writing, alongside her medical profession.