Saving lives in Uganda, one heart at a time. An interview with Dr. Charles Lugero.

We sat down recently with Dr. Charles Lugero from Uganda to chat about his training here in Hamilton. Joining us was Dr. Nicholas Valettas, doctor Lugero’s clinical supervisor. Here is the transcript of our interview.

Dr. Charles Lugero: My name is Charles Lugero. I come from Uganda. Hamilton General Hospital/McMaster University is one of the few centres in the world that can offer hands-on training to trainees, especially trainees from low-income countries.

It was my number-one priority place, because I knew that if I could access this place, I would have hands-on training, and that would help me directly have skills transfer and be in a better position when I go back home to practice.
Dr. Nicholas Valettas: I am Dr. Nicholas Valettas. I am the director of the cardiology resident’s program at McMaster University. Doctor Charles Lugero from Uganda joined us this year as one of our cardiology trainees. He’s here to do a dedicated one year of extra training in general cardiology with an emphasis on nuclear cardiology.

Dr. Charles Lugero: There is a huge difference in terms of hands-on training here, because as a trainee from Uganda, you get to Hamilton General and get integrated into the whole fellowship program and are treated the same way as the residents who are within the Hamilton General Hospital.

You have access to patients, you are given responsibilities, you have room to make prescriptions, you have opportunity to carry out procedures, and you are doing this in full view and with full support of your seniors. That way, there is a difference between training where you are just there and observing, and training where you are actually participating and carrying out procedures and everything.

That way, you get the confidence, and, in so doing, the training does not only expose you to clinical skills. It exposes you to lots of other skills.

I am here at McMaster University, based at Hamilton General, but I also have the opportunity to rotate at St. Joseph’s, which is an affiliate hospital to McMaster University. I am learning general cardiology, but with a lot of emphasis on nuclear cardiology. Nuclear cardiology is currently non-existent in Uganda.

So I hope, after this training, I will be much more prepared to be able to go and initiate this kind of service in Uganda, and to be able to do good reporting to the level of McMaster. I am also having good training in terms of other diagnostics, in terms of echo and all other imaging modalities, as well as cardiac catheterization.

Dr. Nicholas Valettas: One of the reasons that Charles also found it important to come here was that we were able to offer training that he just couldn’t get locally. When we talked before he came, he made it clear to me that back home in Uganda they just didn’t have nuclear cardiology as an area of expertise, and that he was hoping to develop that. And that’s certainly an area of strength here that we could help him with.

Dr. Charles Lugero: When I go back I am going to have a huge impact in terms of my general practice in terms of training but also healthcare and the quality of care that I offer to my patients. Because this training exposes you to lost of things in terms of curative, but also preventive, and also approaches to the whole practice, including research.

So I am hopeful that if someone successfully donates to this program, lots of people like me will have an opportunity to train so that we can go back and train other people in the care of these many ailments.

Dr. Nicholas Valettas: This will have a ripple-down effect. Charles will then go back home and take the knowledge that he has gained here and transfer that to medical students coming through their program, to internal medicine residents, to cardiology trainees. So by donating to train one person, we are in fact training several people based on this knowledge transfer.

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