School of medicine's top graduate sees need for better labs, library By Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
November 21, 2001

Twenty-five-year old Gibraun Brijmohan copped the Prime Minister's award for the best graduating student in the school of medicine when the University of Guyana (UG) held its graduating ceremony two Saturdays ago.

Brijmohan gained a distinction in the degree programme.

The young graduate described the five-year programme as tough and said sometimes he felt like quitting because of the pressure.

"Studying in this field is very difficult. I've had lots of sleepless nights," Brijmohan said.

"I love sports and there were times when I wanted to sit in front of the TV to watch sports but didn't. My family life was also affected. I hardly spent time with them."

But coming out on top was not easy, given the constraints and internal problems the students had to contend with at the medical school.

There is need for more laboratory facilities for anatomy, physiology and biochemistry in the pre-clinical years at UG and the students required more cadavers for study.

It is perceived that there is a rift between the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the university which must be settled and students should be given more access to the hospital, Brijmohan said.

He stated there was also a need for better library facilities for the medical students at the GPHC complex which he said had outdated material.

Brijmohan's achievement came after hundreds of hours of hard work but receiving the degree was a bittersweet moment. His father died less than a month ago. Brijmohan said he had just received the results when his father took ill for the worse. "My only regret is that my father could not be there for my graduation," he stated. Brijmohan lived with his parents at Enterprise, East Coast Demerara. His aunt, Afrose Mohamed, was instrumental in providing textbooks for him, which cost about US$2,000 per year.

Two years of the programme were spent at UG and the other three at the GPHC where students got hands-on experience with patients while being guided by senior doctors and consultants.

This batch of graduates suffered setbacks caused by internal tussles over the appointment of the director for the medical school.

Lecturers who worked at the hospital were against the system used to appoint the director. Only the lecturers who worked at UG on a full-time basis were allowed voting rights in appointing the director.

As a result of this, the GPHC doctors stopped teaching for about nine months, a period which ran into this year.

It was the second time the medical programme was affected. During the public service strike in 1999, nurses were off the job and patients at the GPHC were either sent home or transferred to private hospitals. Because of that situation, the final exams this year were deferred from April to July.

The students were usually tested at end of year exams by external examiners from the University of the West Indies but because of the internal problems at the medical school they refused in one instance. The school then had to resort to utilising the services of examiners from New York's Mount Sinai hospital.

"The exams were very challenging, but once you love the job you would find the strength to keep going," he said.

Despite the many challenges, Brijmohan obtained A's in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, and surgery.

He got a C in general medicine which was the highest grade achieved among the batch of graduates.

About the programme being offered at UG, Brijmohan said the medical school could compare with the others around the world.

"We're still at the infantile stage. As we progress, the planning and capability would improve," he said. "As it is right now, the content is quite good and the lecturers are well qualified, having studied all over the world."

He pointed out that from the third year of the programme, students were allowed to assist during surgery and to handle patients.

"In places like the United Kingdom, a student has to finish the programme before this is allowed," he stated.

Brijmohan noted that in Guyana, there was much focus on clinical medicine.

He said abroad ailments are checked by using technology like ultra sound and CT scans but in Guyana clinical medicine is used which results in the same diagnosis.

Brijmohan will be commencing his internship during the next couple of months at the GHPC. He has set his sights on achieving a US medical licence which would allow him to work and study in the US.

The new doctor expressed thanks for the support he received from his parents, his aunt, Dr Clive Bowan, paediatrics; Dr Madan Rambarran, surgery; Dr P. Santosh, surgery; Dr Sheik Amir, surgery; Dr M.Y. Bacchus, obstetrics and gynaecology; Dr Neville Gobin, obstetrics and gynaecology; and Dr Ramsundar Doobay, the internal medicine consultant.

Now he is enjoying the first fruits of his achievement - a new car presented to him by his girlfriend.