We must be well prepared for the opportunities that come our way

Friday September 17 2021
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Dr. Patrick Kaliika attributes his ability to make his dream of providing quality medical care come true to proper preparation. Photo | Edgar R Batte.

By Edgar R. Batte

Dr Patrick Kaliika’s work has taken him all over the region working under diverse conditions. He has also consulted on health projects for nations and worked in clinical care, and healthcare management in the private sector. Blessed with very many grand ideas, he hopes to impact the healthcare landscape by providing affordable healthcare services on a much larger scale.

Take us through your career journey
Career-wise, I started off as a medical officer and worked with the Makerere University Business School doing mainly reproductive health work, and later worked with Case Hospital as a General Practitioner then as a physician/endocrinologist as well as medical director. I left Case Hospital in December last year. Over time, I also did consultancy assignments with Save the Children in Sierra Leone at Kerry Town to respond to the Ebola Pandemic in 2016.

I later worked at the International Organisation for Migration –Uganda, still responding to threats of Ebola in Uganda. In 2016, I worked as a hospital coordinator and advisor with CorDaid in South Sudan in a health systems strengthening project for three years where we had to revamp the health sector and improve reproductive health standards as well as specialist services in hospitals.

I currently work at Sanctuary Medical Centre and Nursing Home as the lead physician.  The medical centre is a 40-bed facility at six miles on Gayaza Road in Kitetika. It also hosts a foundation programme that treats Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), promotes their awareness, and screens patients at a nominal fee. We also provide holistic care for other ailments but our focus is the elderly and those in need with a vision of making healthcare affordable, including high-end healthcare services. I work with a team of other specialties.
 
To what do you attribute your success?
I have had rigorous training over the years and I work hard at everything I do. I had a vision of where I wanted to be and I decided to focus on getting there. 
But I would not have achieved any of this if it had not been for the strong foundation of discipline and excellence set by my parents Mr and Mrs Betty and Henry Kazibwe while growing up in Mityana. Over the years, they have offered wise counsel and emotional support.   I have also come to understand  that in order to achieve our goals we must be well prepared for the opportunities that come our way.  
 
What do you consider your greatest success as a professional so far?
I have been able to set up a medical centre and contribute to the health sector needs of the nation. Through the Sanctuary Medical Foundation, we have screened for non-communicable diseases in more than 50,000 patients at no cost through camps, treated more than 10, 000 for yearly free care, and reached out through awareness campaigns to thousands. Being able to provide care to my parents, brothers, and sisters, and relatives as well as the general public at a facility where I directly impact their outcomes and reduce costs of care is a success I have always wanted to achieve.
 
What is the most effective career advice you have received?
One day I took my wife to Dr. Fred Kambugu, a skin specialist and a close relative, when he asked me what I was up to career-wise. I told him I had finished an MSc in reproductive health and would now pursue my MBA and focus on business. 
He warned me against that plan and instead advised me to achieve mastery in the field of medicine because it would be important for my career and maybe even more fulfilling. He pointed out that after all I could do the MBA at any point in my life. I took his advice and I will forever be grateful for his advice.

How do you prepare to leave a job for another?
During my career, I have been lucky to hold more than one job at any one time but this is becoming tricky as one gets older. 
In the past, I would secure a new job first before getting another although I was lucky enough to get a leave of absence without pay and a chance to always return to my job. 
 
Who are the people who have been pivotal in your jobs and career journey? 
Dr. Kato Sebbale, the proprietor of Case Hospital, has been pivotal in my career journey. He gave me an opportunity to work with him as a junior doctor and later a senior specialist as well as head the hospital for over 18 years. He also accommodated my leave of absence to pursue my dreams while I worked at the hospital. 
 
 What is your philosophy on money?
As doctors, value service mainly, and even in our training, the issue of money is never talked about. Many times the consultants who mentored us used to say that if you were there to get rich, you should leave and go to Kikuubo for business. Nevertheless, money will come to a prepared person, that is my philosophy and when it comes, use it wisely.
 
What part of your day do you enjoy the most?
The peak of the day is when I am  providing care and at the end of the day when I enjoy a glass of whisky.

On a scale of one to 10, how happy are you right now? 
I believe I am at eight which is very happy. 10 is impossible to achieve. As humans, we keep resetting our targets for full happiness until we meet our maker.  
   
How do you reward yourself?
Once a year, I take a holiday with my loved ones to a destination of my choice, but I never let a chance to have fun pass me by, any day.
 
What book are you currently reading?
I am currently reading two books; Unnatural Causes by Dr. Richard Shepherd and The 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick J. McGinnis.

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Careers expert Will Capper, the co-founder of job platform DirectlyApply, says: “This is actually a lot more common than you think. A dream career at the age of 16 might feel quite the opposite when you are actually sat in that position at the age of 30.”

“Assuming you start when you finish university at roughly 21, should you decide to make a switch at 30, you are only nine years into your career. Which although seems like a long time, given that you might work until 70, it is only about a fifth of your working life. What people should remember is there is undoubtedly a lot of skills and experience that you can take from your current career into your new one and that will definitely help you to climb the ladder quicker,” says Capper. 

Before even qualifying one former lawyer knew it wasn’t the career for her, but ploughed on regardless for fear of disappointing family, as she was following in her father’s footsteps.

She explains: “My dad really wanted me to be a solicitor like him and take over the family firm which he set up. I qualified as a lawyer in 1983 and continued my career as a family lawyer for years, becoming a mediator and training lawyers as mediators and collaborative lawyers and becoming well known. To be honest, I always felt that being a lawyer was not quite the right fit for me. Even when studying law as a degree, although I felt I could be good at the law if I tried, my heart was not fully in it. When people would ask me at parties what I did, I wanted to avoid saying I was a lawyer and would even sometimes say I am a lawyer but I really want to write,” she says.

She did not get the guts to leave until she was well into her 60s even though her dad passed away four years before she quit she still worried about what he would have thought.
She says: ‘I should perhaps have left beforehand, but there was still something in the back of my head about how proud my dad was of me as a lawyer.’

Changing perceptions
Feelings towards a career can also change because your own circumstances are different and it simply does not work with the way your life is 20 years on from starting out. It is something 44-year-old Helen discovered, even though she had ‘lived and breathed’ politics throughout her career, studying it at undergraduate level before going on to get a masters in social policy and a post graduate diploma in communication.

Helen then spent 20 years working in political engagement, but two decades in, she realised it did not fulfil her anymore.  Now living with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease and raising a family, she realised her job was just not what she wanted at that stage. 
“My health was suffering, my family was suffering and I wanted something different,” says Helen. 

“It was between 18 months and two years between realising I wanted to leave and actually doing so. I held on because I knew redundancy was a possibility and that it would help fund retraining,” she adds.
Now running her own social media marketing business, she has no regrets and says it has transformed her life however, Helen does admit she initially faced some shame around her choice. 

“I was really conscious of people judging me. I did not want to be thought of as someone who could not make it. But now I have no regrets. I have built a life that is letting me do something fulfilling, spend time with my family and have improved health. There is no downside,” she says.

New passions
Of course, as you get older, you can also find new passions. 
Mandy had dreamed of working in graphic and web design since she was young. But after a legal battle over her house, she used the gym as stress relief and realised how much she enjoyed it. When the problem was resolved, Mandy thought about making it her career.

She says: “When all I could think about was fitness and nutrition even when I was at work. I was no longer excited when new design briefs came in and found my working hours started to drag. I no longer felt challenged and everyday started to feel like a nightmare,” she says.

Mandy spent 14 months considering the move before handing in her notice and starting her training. She says: “I felt guilty because my parents had funded me through university and I had worked so hard to get to where I was.”

Although most of those around her were not sure about her decision, Mandy followed her gut and set up her own personal training business.  
“My family and friends were shocked but they went along with it because they felt I could return to design if things did not work out. Even now, four years later my mum still say to me when I am having a tough day and suggest that maybe I should think about going back to design,” says Mandy.

“Half of my colleagues had expected me to change careers because they could see my new passion was more than a hobby. The other half thought I was making a mistake. Although everybody was supportive, few showed an interest in my new career. I felt like they wanted me to make the change so that I can see it was all a mistake,” she adds.  Mandy says she had self-doubt especially at the beginning when she had very few clients. 

“Apart from the self-doubt, I have no regrets. My new career is very rewarding and I love what I do. The designer in me is still there as one of the things I love about my new career is that I am building a brand for me and not somebody else,” she adds.

Adapted from metro.co.uk

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