Busitema University Faculty of Health Sciences (BUFHS) was established in 2013 to create a leading training and research and outreach platform in health care in Eastern Uganda. The first program offered was MBCHB. Fifty six students were selected amidst stiff competition and enrolled as the pioneer students of the program. They found themselves subjected to a unique training curriculum-the problem-based learning approach. This approach had been selected as the predominant mode of delivery so as to impart lifelong skills for self-directed learning, problem solving, communication and leadership in the graduates. The majority of the students were coming directly from high school level, which is dominated by a teacher-centered approach to learning. However, the MBCHB curriculum provided that each student takes a lead in his/her learning. In addition, as the human body functions as an integral unit, learning was to be integrated both horizontally and vertically. This approach meant that foundation disciplines such as Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry were to be taught/learned simultaneously. Furthermore, that from the beginning of their studies students would be exposed to clinical experiences which in other curricula are a preserve of 3rd to 5th year students.
The curriculum has also provided a 12-weeks student exposure to communities and health facilities in rural areas. This exposure has molded our graduates into individuals who cherish, or at least not detest, work in underserved and marginalized communities. In their final year the students were offered a course aimed at equipping them with entrepreneurial skills which for long had been recognized as deficient among most doctors in Uganda.
The benefits of these approaches at BUFHS have been phenomenal: external examiners have repeatedly commented on how our students are bold and good communicators, performance at national medical quizzes has been commendable as well as the fact that our graduates have stood out at internship centers and subsequent work stations. Some of our pioneer students are already heading hospitals and health centers showing that the teamwork and leadership qualities inculcated into our products is already yielding plausible dividends.
The faculty is not resting on its laurels. While the efforts of those who made the existence of BUFHS possible and of the pioneer staff who laid its foundation are appreciated we recognize more needs to be done. More staff need to be recruited, more functional departments need to be developed and more infrastructure needs to be built. With this commitment and the foundation already in place the future of BUFHS is bright and assured.