Egerton is in celebratory mood as it releases its first ever medical graduates after 74 years of existence.
The university which is based in Njoro, Nakuru County, is holding its 29th graduation ceremony Friday, December 20, 2013.
The University was started by Lord Egerton with the sole purpose of training agricultural officers, but it has since diversified into the medical field.
The entrance of the new doctors to the market comes at a time when the country is facing an acute shortage of doctors and nurses, a situation that is threatening to paralyse health services in Kenya.
According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health, the country has a shortfall of about 20,000 doctors and between 40,000 to 60,000 nurses.
University of Nairobi was the sole trainer of doctors in Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s before Kenyatta and Moi universities started the faculties of medicine in the 1990s.
In an effort to bridge the gap, at least 10 public and private universities in the country are planning to train doctors and are awaiting the approval from the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.
The universities include Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Maseno, Kabarak, Kisii, Pwani, Kenya Methodist University, Presbyterian University of East Africa, Uzima Catholic University in Kisumu, Masinde Muliro and Mt Kenya University.
Addressing the new doctors at the Egerton University’s Faculty of Health Science Nakuru Town campus recently, the chairman of Education committee of the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board Prof Barasa Khwa Otsyula told the nine doctors to take the Hippocratic Oath seriously.
Prof Otsyula urged them to maintain their professional ethics.
“As young doctors you have a bright future and you should use your knowledge to serve humanity,” he told them.
However, he warned that the board would not hesitate to cancel their licenses if they fail to adhere to their oath.
“This oath was written in 400BC and it has not changed and if you want to succeed you must uphold the medical profession including keeping secret the confidential information you receive from your patients both dead and alive,” said Prof Otsyula.
He cautioned the young doctors to observe global traditions by conducting themselves appropriately in public.
“As doctors you should not discriminate any patient regardless of their religion and you must also not use your knowledge in contravention of the laws guiding humanity,” he added.
Prof Otsyula said that his board was satisfied by the steps taken by Egerton University to improve facilities at the Faculty of Health Sciences.
“But there is still more to be done and we hope the university administration will address the pending issues,” he said.
He said the university need to recruit more staff to cope with the increasing number of students seeking to be trained as doctors.
The don noted that the university needed to start post-graduate training for doctors and urged it to work closely with the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital to attain this goal.
“The university needs more specialists in various fields of medicine who will help the students sharpen their skills and become good medical doctors,” said Prof Otysula.
The Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the University Dr Tsimbiri Pamela Fedha said that when the first batch of students were admitted they were only served by a single department but the faculty has now grown to 11 departments with qualified staff.
Parents joined the nine graduands in dance and joy to celebrate their success.
The young doctors could not hide their joy as they were hugged and congratulated by their parents and relatives who attended the colourful ceremony at the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences in the Milimani Estate.
“We started the journey with a lot of frustrations as many people did not believe that Egerton University was capable of producing medical doctors.
Some of us were under pressure to quit as we were told we would not be registered as medical doctors after completing our course,” said 25-year old Cynthia Achieng Odipo.
Daisy Chebet Mabwai, 24, who hopes to specialise in paediatrics says that lack of lecturers in the initial stages did not deter her from pursuing her dream.
28-year old Joseph Yaa Karisa is among the nine newly graduated doctors.
The former Ribe Boys’ High School alumni who scored a mean grade of A- in his KCSE exam said he plans to specialise in orthopaedics.
“I like fixing bones and repairing fractures and after my one year internship I hope to be a good orthopaedic,” said Karisa.
The Principal, Nakuru Town campus Prof Lenah Nakhone Wati revealed that at one point the Vice chancellor Prof James Tuitoek was forced to travel to Tanzania to look for more lecturers.