Interview with Yvonne Nakibirango

Yvonne Nakibirango is a fourth-year medical student from Makerere University, Uganda, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery. Alongside Stella Nakaye, she visited the Cambridge Biomedical Campus for six weeks this summer to complete an ethical elective in oncology and haematology – made possible by Cambridge Global Health Partnerships, Cambridge-Africa, and with funding from the Thriplow Charitable Trust.

Here Yvonne talks to CGHP about the differences between the British and Ugandan hospital system, the skills she was able to put into practice, and the knowledge she’s taking home.

Why did you want to undertake an elective in the UK?

As a student of Medicine & Surgery, I had always been fascinated by the rich history and academic excellence of Cambridge. The university’s world-class research facilities and the chance to learn from esteemed experts in the field were truly impressive, not to mention the exposure to diverse cultures and perspectives. With the UK’s well-established medical education system, I was eager to witness first-hand how it operates, especially in the realm of cancer care and research. I firmly believed that this opportunity would expand my horizons and grant me invaluable experience with a wide range of patient cases.

Yvonne in Cambridge

What has been the biggest surprise about the UK hospital system?

The biggest surprise for me was the level of coordination among healthcare professionals and the continuity of care with all necessary documentation, which is made possible by the Epic System. The multidisciplinary approach to patient care is truly remarkable, and it has undoubtedly contributed to better patient outcomes. Additionally, the emphasis on evidence-based medicine and the use of the latest technologies left a lasting impression on me. I was also impressed by how the National Health Service provides universal health care and cost-effective comprehensive services.

What skills or knowledge acquired in Uganda were you able to put into place here?

The medical education I received in Uganda has provided me with a solid foundation in diagnosing and managing various haematological and oncological conditions. I was able to apply this knowledge effectively during rounds and discussions, and it was heartening to see that my training in Uganda has prepared me well for the challenges here. I was also able to apply the basic skills of history taking, physical examination and case presentation in the various clinics I attended.

I successfully applied my knowledge of patient safety, including the principles of privacy and confidentiality, along with the significance of handling patient records securely. For instance, I ensured the proper logging out of the Epic system when not in use, and I was meticulous about closing doors when accessing patient information to maintain confidentiality.

What key skill or process will you take back to Uganda with you?

Addenbrooke’s Hospital fosters an environment where specialists from different disciplines work closely together to design comprehensive treatment plans and personalised patient care. This collaborative approach has yields better patient outcomes, and I am determined to implement it in my future practice back home.

One more crucial skill I aim to take back is the prompt identification and diagnosis of various haematological and oncological conditions.

“Participating in this elective has been truly enriching, and I cannot wait to return to Uganda armed with newfound knowledge and skills.”

What has been your proudest moment?

Doing my elective placement at Cambridge has been an incredible honour.  

My proudest moment during this elective was when I had the privilege to present a case to Dr Will Thomas during a clinic and coming up with the right diagnosis for a case that I hadn’t encountered before. He engaged me in a thoughtful discussion, and my insights were warmly received. It was an empowering experience to contribute meaningfully to the patient’s care.

How important is funding in making an overseas elective possible?

The funding support I received for this elective has been indispensable. From covering travel expenses to accommodation and living costs, the financial assistance made this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality. Undertaking an overseas elective comes with inherent financial challenges, and I am truly grateful for the support that has eased this burden and allowed me to focus on my learning and growth.

Without the financial assistance, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to gain this enriching experience and take back valuable knowledge to Uganda’s medical community.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the warm welcome I’ve received in this environment. I am genuinely excited to further my learning and personal growth in the medical field. I extend special thanks to Drs Martin Besser, Mark Robinson, Will Thomas, Marquita Camilleri, Duncan Brian, Andrew King, Pedro Martin-Cabrera, Huiqi Yang, and Kate Fife for their invaluable guidance during this period.

Participating in this elective has been truly enriching, and I cannot wait to return to Uganda armed with newfound knowledge and skills. I am confident that these experiences will significantly shape my career as a compassionate and competent medical professional, enabling me to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and contribute meaningfully to healthcare in my community.

Stella and Yvonne with Dr Martin Besser

Find out more about ethical elective opportunities within CGHP’s partnership programmes, or contact us at