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Meet Stella Nimanya

Paediatric surgeon at Mulago Hospital 

Many students aspire to become doctors and more so to advance to become surgeons. Many are motivated by those clean white coats that doctors wear and the stethoscopes that hang around their necks but behind all that are amazing experiences worth sharing.

In today's career spotlight, we bring you Dr Stella Nimanya, A Paedriatic surgeon in Mulago who shares her career journey and deep insights in the fields of surgery. This is what we asked!

In a nutshell, describe what you do as a Paediatric surgeon and what motivated you to pursue that career path?

I work with and basically operate any children under 12yrs of age that have a surgical disease. I teach and mentor medical students in surgery. My motivation was due to a passion for surgery and especially pediatric surgery. It's an amazing field. But also being able to interact with amazing mentors in the field was encouraging.

What was it like finishing school and getting into your first jobs?

Finishing school felt great! Although education is actually a continuous process so I'm actually still in school but at a different level. My first job was upcountry so it was a bit scary but was an opportunity to learn to be independent.

As for my current job, I went for it! Guess knowing what you want, and letting your potential employers know that is good. Know how much you expect to be remunerated but also don't be greedy

So anything cool about this kind of work? Are there challenges?

Everything is cool about surgery! It's like being high or having an adrenaline rush! When you're in surgery nothing else matters. But also being able to help those who are sick feel better and go on to live normal lives is amazing. Challenges are plenty from a less than ideal working environment to having limited resources available for work to losing babies that could potentially be saved just because you can't do anything about it....lots of challenges

What skills does one need to be a Paediatric Surgeon, how important are those skills and how can someone perfect such skills?

Well, you need to be humble (I'm not sure if that's a skill, but humility is key), need to be aware of your competencies, know what you're able to do and unable to do, seeking help is not a sign of weakness... it is being wise. But being knowledgeable, meticulous, creative, aggressive, persistent, intentional... it is a long list. But then again...skills can be learned. Practice, practice, practice, and practice some more.

How did school (High school and University) prepare you for the career you are pursuing today?

I did PCB/M. (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics) I guess for the basic sciences that you eventually get to do in medical school, all those subjects do help set a foundation. But even then, I think biology and chemistry are key.but there is so many principles of physics we still get to use in medicine.

Medical school was the backbone of this whole career. The exposure you get gives you an idea about where you're best suited. Medicine is wide, some you'll find interesting, some you'll find boring but you'll always need it all! No one will teach you how to be a leader, but it is expected at some point in this career you are a team leader, a teacher or even a mentor...so take up any opportunities you get at leadership, practice makes perfect.

Has Stellah had any rewarding events so far, if yes, what are some moments that made you proud to be a Paediatric surgeon?

Hearing mothers testify about God's goodness on seeing their sick babies get well is always rewarding. Seeing a baby that you operated at 1 or 2 days of life because they weren't going to survive at 5 or even 10 years of age living a normal life is rewarding. Or seeing a baby that had a deformity that was going to impact their lives now living a normal life is also rewarding.

So what is the future like for this career field? What trends are you seeing that are going to define the field 5 years to come?

Fetal surgery is something I see in the future...we won't have to wait for babies to be born to fix them, we'll be able to fix them while they are still in their mum's wombs. Minimally invasive surgery/keyhole as well is getting big. Robotic surgery as well will all change surgery as we know it.

Finally what advice would you give someone who dreams of walking on the same career path you are on?

If you really want this...and you're willing to put in the time and the work that it takes, then no one can say otherwise. Be intentional about your choice, commit it to the Lord, for he will establish all your plans then do your part, and God will do the rest. Even when you're scared, do it anyways, as long as you keep going, you're bound to get there eventually. Also, don't compare your journey or your progress to anyone else's. You are you...be you...do you...for you and for God.

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