IMG_20190402_174931Volunteering with the Department

At present, the most pressing volunteer issue in the Department is volunteering as preceptor (= Family physician coach for medical students) during the period of the 6-week undergraduate Family Medicine Rotation for 4th year medical students, in a rural hospital for 6 weeks


For reference and consideration, the dates of future cohorts can be found in the Excel sheet, link below:

Here is the Full schedule

The 6 weeks consist of 1 week lectures in Blantyre (Monday-Friday), 4 weeks clinical/bedside preceptor in Mangochi district hospital, and 1 week exam week in Blantyre.

Before or after the 6 weeks there is an opportunity for travelling and tourism.

Neno Hospital (Partners In Health: PIH) and Nkhoma Hospital have their own US-FPs who work in the same undergraduate program. PIH has made an excellent document for preceptors in Neno Hospital on what preparations to make but the document is also applicable for Mangochi.

Please note, not all request for volunteering are able to be accomodated. Please keep that in mind when contacting us for opportunities.

For further information we recommend contacting

Mirriam van Goor (Undergraduate Program Coordinator) or Head of Department 

You may have to register with the Malawian Medical board.

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Below is a narrative description of Life and work at Mangochi District Hospital, focused on medical education: From the Perspective of Department of Family Medicine Faculty and Visiting Teachers:

Medical students are present in Mangochi on attachment for their Family Medicine rotation for 4 weeks at a time, following one week of lectures and preparation given at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. The hospital in Mangochi has 400+ beds and serves a catchment area of over 1 million people. There are a broad array of services including wards for men, women, children, TB, nutritional rehab, surgical services, and a labor ward. Outpatient services include numerous problem-specific clinics, including weekly diabetes and hypertension clinics. At Mangochi, similar to other district hospitals in Malawi, service provision of healthcare is primarily provided by Clinical officers (CO) and their interns (COs in training), as well as nurses, with the limited College of Medicine faculty and Family Medicine post-graduate trainees serving as the sole physicians. Besides medical students, other types of medical learners are plentiful including nursing, Clinical Officer, and Medical Assistant students.

A typical day supporting undergraduate medical education at Mangochi District Hospital starts with morning handover at 7:25am, intended to be a gathering of all hospital staff. Overnight cases of significance are presented by nursing and on-call staff and discussed. Often there is a teaching presentation, including once weekly a case presentation given by the medical students. After morning handover, Faculty and Visiting teachers head to the wards for clinical teaching. The medical students, split into groups of 3, and are stationed on a rotating basis all around the hospital to expose them to the different settings at the District Hospital. On our preferred wards, we round on patients for whom students have prepared presentations. Often times we will collaborate with other clinicians on the ward (Clinical Officers, Clinical Officer Interns) on their patients, as well as provide assistance with, for example bedside ultrasound. Some days Faculty supervise and support students in the twice-weekly NCD (Diabetes & Hypertension) clinics, identified as a priority location for collaboration from visiting clinicians.

In the afternoons, time is flexible; sometimes we supervise medical students in their assigned settings, other times we perform the students’ required “observed consultations”, where we observe and give students marks (grades) as they perform a history and physical and compile an assessment and plan for an undifferentiated patient in the outpatient setting. From 4-5pm, the last hour of the workday, when medical students are present on-site, we gather the medical students together for a teaching session, which can variably take the form of informal discussion of cases the students have seen, formal prepared teaching or even supervising the family medicine registrars as they teach the students.

Lunch and evening time often includes marking the students; “logbooks”, portfolios of task completions and reflections. The weekends are free, allowing time to explore the sights of Mangochi district and beyond. The work is strenuous but certainly rewarding. Difficulties include diagnosis and treatment concerns common to lower-resource settings, with intermittent power outages and resultant unpredictable availability of lab tests, imaging (x-ray and ultrasound available when electricity is present), and medication shortages. It is immeasurably satisfying, however, to teach the principles and practice of Family Medicine to eager students and watch them grow over the course of the rotation, and to help support the medical education capacity of Mangochi District Hospital.

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