Liberia: “Learn More, Serve More, Earn More”



 — JFK CMO urges medical students to be service-oriented

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Medical Center, has intimated that the medical profession is a place of service to humanity and, as such, practitioners should be humble and compassionate.

Dr. Siah Watta Camanor admonished students who are aspiring to be medical professionals to serve more as they learn more, and they would eventually earn more.

She made the admonition when the A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine initiated 36 first-year medical students. The medical school is a component of the University of Liberia (UL) College of Health Sciences. 

Dr. Camanor, who served as guest speaker at the ceremony, urged the instructors of the school to train the students in a “service style way” so that they do not only become caring and responsible citizens, but solutions to problems in their communities. 

“I need to encourage our teachers to adopt a service learning style in which our students are encouraged to apply what they learn and serve the community to solve problems in their community, so that they can be caring and responsible citizens,” she said.  

“You will have to make your patients comfortable because they have many concerns, they are anxious, and they are looking for solutions,” the JFK CMO told the 36-member class, who coined for themselves the name ‘Medicas Manus’ — Latin for ‘Healing Hands’. “Be kind, introduce yourself... Patients have the right to know who is touching them and who is treating them.

“Medical practitioners are there to support patients and their families, especially when they have a difficult diagnosis. So you should be no exception,” Dr. Camanor added. “Remember to hold their hand sometimes when you have to break bad news. Hold their hand when they're in pain; hold their hand when they’re getting ready to answer the call... which we’ll all have to answer one day.” 

She noted that when the Master of the Universe calls patients home and there’s nothing more that can be done medically, “you need to be able to hold their hands.”

The Executive Assistant at UL College of Health Sciences, Fatee Ziegler, urged the students to be studious as there are practically no financial burdens on their shoulders to bear.

“It’s a privilege to be in medical school now without paying any money,” she said, while at the same time imploring members of the class not to take such an opportunity for granted. 

“It costs a lot in other countries to attend medical school. Students do pay a lot of money for their education,” she said. “So they have the problem of funding themselves, and the problem of studying. You only have the privilege to just come to school and study. Please don’t ever take that privilege for granted.

“It is my fervent hope,” she said, “that all 36 students will graduate and take the oath of honor.” 

The Dean of the medical school, Dr. Lawrence Sherman, motivated the students, saying, “We are here to encourage you and give you all the support you need. Don’t let everything that has been said here [put fear] in you.” 

Regardless of all the problems that the initiates may have outside, Dr. Sherman said their one task in this life is to succeed as medical doctors.

The president of the Liberia Medical Students Association (LMSA), Madam Patricia Gray, admonished the new students to be disciplined and pay attention to their lessons. 

“You have to think outside the box most of the time in your studies and go beyond simply reading your materials. You need to be focused, read smartly, and know what you want to achieve at a given time.

The student leader lauded the administration for solving the transportation problem of students through the provision of a bus to commute students and instructors between Fendall and the medical school for their clinical studies.

The issue of electricity remains a tough challenge, she said, urging the administration to provide electricity support so that students could study. 

The president of the class, Benjamin Bedell, Jr., lauded the administrative and instructional staff of the school for the level of preparation thus far. 

Meanwhile the white coat ceremony for the first-year students was held recently at the auditorium of the Medical School in Congo Town.

The event was attended by families and friends of the initiated students, UL authorities, and officials in the medical field.