Seven new Cuba-trained doctors join Berbice health authority

The Berbice Regional Health Authority’s (BRHA) team recently received a boost, with the addition of seven new doctors, who were trained in Cuba.

The new doctors are Andy Walcott, Mellissa Towler, Nyron Sugrim, Sonya Lord, Alicia Subramanie, Nandy Benons and Matoya Cort. A simple graduation exercise held yesterday in the boardroom of the BRHA, saw the Cuban trained Guyanese doctors officially receiving their credentials permitting them to practise medicine in the country.

Valedictorian Dr Andy Walcott, reminisced on the journey he embarked on seven years ago. “One of my major fears was whether or not I would be able to cope with the Spanish. Medicine is hard enough in English let alone medicine in a foreign language,” he said.

The seven new doctors displaying their certificates, with BRHA CEO Dr Vishwa Mahadeo, Dr Javier Lopez, Matron Lyken and Hospital Superintendent Melissa Ramdeen.
The seven new doctors displaying their certificates, with BRHA CEO Dr Vishwa Mahadeo, Dr Javier Lopez, Matron Lyken and Hospital Superintendent Melissa Ramdeen.

But his fear completely dissipated after less than five minutes in Cuba, when he “realised that my newfound colleagues and I were in the same boat. I was not alone.” He explained that he felt comforted knowing others would share his journey and had similar goals. “We had all gone there with three basic objectives: to learn a second language, to become the best doctors that we could possibly become and to make our parents proud in the process.”

Walcott also reflected on some of the struggles and challenges he and his classmates had to overcome while studying in Cuba, but said that valuable lessons were learnt. “Today is proof that hard work never goes unpaid.

During our six years in Cuba, we learnt how to properly prepare boiled beans; how to be patient waiting hours on transportation; but most importantly we learnt to be humble and appreciate the smaller things in life and we learnt the true meaning of solidarity.”

He noted that although they enjoyed and appreciate Cuba, which he credits for making the group bilinguals and doctors, they were “overly elated to return home, complete our studies and serve our people, our nation and influence our destiny.”

Delivering the charge to the graduates, CEO of the BRHA, Dr Vishwa Mahadeo cautioned them, “while you are qualified theoretically as doctors, you are not doctors as yet.” Mahadeo made the point that theoretically the new doctors may be “better prepared than any nurse, midwife, medic, dispenser or pharmacist, but practically they are all better prepared than you at this.”

Therefore, his first bit of advice was that they should use the hospital’s senior staff as their tutors for the next couple years and learn from them.

He also urged the graduates to “follow your colleagues who are good; because I understand some of them, who were taught and graduated last year, are now very disrespectful – don’t forget where you come from, because 25 years from now you still would not be able to catch up to those who are your seniors.”

The seven doctors recently completed their one-year internship in Guyana and will commence work as general medical practitioners in September of this year.

The graduation ceremony, attended by the graduates, parents and guardians, as well as New Amsterdam and BRHA staffers, was punctuated by cultural presentations.

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