NAME: JOSEPHINE OJIGO MD. (UON) MmED PEDIATRICS (UON)
RESIDENCE: KISUMU, MOUNTAIN VIEW
CURRENT EMPLOYER: KISUMU COUNTY GOVERNMENT, CONSULTANT PEDIATRICIAN
DATE OF BIRTH: 15/03/1981
CONTACT INFO.: +254724394318
If you asked me, being a pediatrician is one of the most challenging of medical specialties. I mean, some of those very young patients might present with nothing but a cry and it’s up to the pediatrician to figure out exactly what is wrong and treat it. How many times have we seen young doctors struggling to fix an IV line in an infant? You could spend hours. But to some doctors, practicing pediatrics is nothing but sheer joy. Dr. Josephine Ojigo is one such doctor.
Doctors (like Dr. Ogola) who have had a chance to work with her describe her as a jovial, sociable and passionate pediatrician with a unique capability of balancing love and strictness towards her colleagues and juniors.
theDoctor had the unique opportunity to have a one on one chat with the self-reserved yet very insightful doctor. We met with Dr. Ojigo at her clinic at the Optimum Medical Plaza, or as she likes to call it: “the Toto’s corner” just to find out how the young girl who grew up weeding rice on the plains of Kano grew up to become this elegant, confident woman and one of the top clinical pediatricians in Kisumu.
This is how it went down:
theDoctor: thank you Dr. Ojigo, for agreeing to be featured on theDoctor. Please tell; when exactly did you decide you wanted to be a pediatrician?
Dr. Ojigo: Actually for a very long time I never knew exactly what I wanted to do. Even through my undergraduate and my internship I hadn’t made up my mind on any career path. It was long into my practice as a Medical Officer that I decided I wanted to do pediatrics.
theDoctor: and how has it been so far?
Dr. Ojigo: It has been amazing. If I were to go back in time, I would make the same decision probably earlier. It is very fulfilling being a pediatrician. You know, sometimes a child comes in in a coma; you treat them and a few hours later you see them playing and running around.
They will not say “thank you”, but the looks and smiles on their faces say it all. The caretakers on the other hand; mostly it’s the mothers, when you see them relieved that actually their child is ok …there is no better feeling.
theDoctor: For how long have you been a pediatrician?
Dr. Ojigo: For 3 years. I was posted to JOOTRH after my M.Med in April 2015. I graduated in Dec 2015 from the U.O.N.
theDoctor: Have you worked anywhere else apart from Kisumu?
Dr. Ojigo: As a pediatrician, no. I was posted directly to JOOTRH as soon as I graduated from Nairobi university. At the time Dr. Awuonda had just left the hospital and joined Maseno. Dr. Juliana was the only pediatrician left in the hospital but she was more involved with managerial duties.
The hospital thereby needed a pediatrician and I was lucky enough to be approached and I thought; why not? If anything I was going to be working closer home than I ever had before.
theDoctor: where else had you worked before?
Dr. Ojigo: Not very many places. I did my internship in the then Kakamega Provincial General Hospital, in 2007, then I was posted as an MO to Vihiga District Hospital from where I was transferred to Kiambu District Hospital (now all County Referral Hospitals ). Then from Kiambu I went back to UON for My Mmed in Pediatrics and Child Health.
theDoctor: did working in those places help shape you into liking peads?
Dr. Ojigo: Yeah, they totally did. You see it was only during my internship that I got a chance to rotate in all the 4 major fields of medicine and I had a chance to compare. I realized I enjoyed pediatrics and obstetrics more than surgery and internal medicine.
And coincidentally when I was posted to vihiga as an MO I found myself working in those two departments most of the time: because we were just two medical officers; my colleague being male had a bias towards surgery and by extension Internal medicine. So I was left to do what I enjoyed the most.
theDoctor: So, you never got to work in those departments as a medical officer?
Dr. Ojigo: I did, when you were on call in Vihiga, you had to work in all the departments so I used to rotate in surgery and I-med once in a while. But lucky for me, there was a surgeon who helped me whenever I got stuck.
And even in Kiambu, obstetrics and pediatrics were my main areas. So, for mmed I would have gone either way. And I ended up in pediatrics.
theDoctor: How is the future for you, in pediatrics?
Dr. Ojigo: Well, I am thinking of specializing in neonatology, if I get a chance and public health, so I can focus more on the preventive side/community aspect of pediatric medicine.
theDoctor: All the best in that. So currently, how’s working at JOOTRH?
Dr. Ojigo: its ok. I’m currently heading the department and I’m the only hospital pediatrician since the retirement of Dr. Juliana. If it weren’t for Maseno and Uzima Universities, I would probably be running the whole department alone. But I thank God for my colleagues from Maseno and Uzima: Dr. Walter, Dr. Grace Nalwa, Dr Awuonda and Dr Ganda. We are doing a great job together.
theDoctor: What do you do when you’re not at JOORTH?
Dr. Ojigo: Well, as you can see this is my small office right here at Optimum medical plaza, it’s a shared practice with other doctors that include physicians, gynecologists and a pharmacist. This is where I spend some of my time … (see also Dr. Omoto, Dr. Wafula)
theDoctor: I hear you also teach.
Dr. Ojigo: (smiling) Yeah I do teach at Uzima University as a part time lecturer.
theDoctor: Would you consider teaching as a fulltime job?
Dr. Ojigo: No. not really. Of course I don’t mind sharing my knowledge, because as a doctor one of your responsibilities is to teach medical students and other doctors, but standing in front of a class to teach is really not my thing.
CHILDHOOD AND GROWING UP
theDoctor: Where did you grow up daktari?
Dr. Ojigo: (lighting up) Hee! I grew up in a number of places, I was born in Kano plains, near Ahero. I grew up in Elgeiyo-Marakwet for some time, then moved to Kisumu town then finally went back home in Ahero.
theDoctor: So I’m assuming you also went to quite a number of schools.
Dr. Ojigo: Countless actually; I would have to take time just to remember all of them.
theDoctor: why was that?
Dr. Ojigo: we were following my Dad around, he was a primary school teacher so whenever he got a transfer, we would move with him, all within a rural set-up. The final primary school I went to was somewhere in near Ahero, in between rice plantations; it called Siany Kabonyo, and that’s the one that counts as my primary school in all my papers.
theDoctor: where did you go to high school?
Dr. Ojigo: I went to Lwak Girls High School off your way towards Bondo. That’s the school that shaped me. I got to meet girls from different backgrounds financially and academically -from schools within Kisumu town that I had only heard of and merely marveled at. You know, being from a small village, most of the time, the language of communication and instruction was pure Luo; then you find these sophisticated English, swahili speaking girls and you’re just in awe.
It took me a while to adjust and I later realized that background didn’t really matter; it was the determination to move forward with the chances I had at hand that mattered the most. It’s this realization that helped me withstand the thick and thin of Medical School in UON.
theDoctor: is that where you decided you wanted to become a doctor?
Dr. Ojigo: No, throughout my high school I was inclined towards engineering courses or something related to mathematics. Because I was good with calculations and using formulae. I used to shock even my teachers by the fact that I found the humanity subjects hard yet they were very easy for other students.
We did not have proper career guidance when choosing the university courses, so somehow I ended up in medicine having passed my KCSE. Probably in an ideal setup I would have pursued something more mathematical.
theDoctor: How did you end up in med school?
Dr. Ojigo: Somehow I had applied for it and I qualified. You know growing up, I had no exposure to the various career choices there were. The only people I saw frequently in my neighborhood were teachers. The only ‘doctors’ we knew growing up were the people working at the nearest dispensary. Even the cleaners were referred to as ‘doctors’.
It wasn’t until I joined university that I came to know of the diversity of things someone could study.
theDoctor: Did you grow up around your siblings?
Dr. Ojigo: Yes. I am the first born in a family of five. So most of my childhood was spent taking care of my younger siblings. In fact, I always ask my parents why they had to put me through all that. I know I was the first born but honestly, all the baby sitting, cleaning and the cooking …it was like I was the deputy parent. (laughing).
But all that shaped me into who I am today, I dealt with children a lot and I think it helped shape me into who I am today; a pediatrician. I see young people and I automatically feel that I should nurture them (smiling with pride). I also learnt a great deal of responsibility, because I have had to support my siblings through school ‘’to enable them apply blue band on their own bread’’ as my dad always says.
theDoctor: is that why you are as strict as you are? People say you are very strict.
Dr. Ojigo: (Laughing) I don’t know whether I am strict or not, I just like things done in the right way and according to plan. If there happens to be a change in the plan, I need to be informed in good time and with good reason. I also do not like reminding adults what they know they need to do. But I don’t think I am very strict. Probably by the fact that I don’t speak much (I am an introvert I don’t let out quite much), makes people think I am strict/unapproachable.
theDoctor: what do you do outside Medicine and pediatrics?
Dr. Ojigo: I like to travel, drive around visiting people, and I also like nature; just looking at nature or walking along a beach or by the lake brings me so much calm. I love to walk, just taking a stroll appreciating the goodness of God’s creation.
And besides all that I like to spend time with my son.
theDoctor: oooh! So you have your own pediatrics unit…
Dr. Ojigo: Yes, I am a mother, to a nine-year-old boy. He is now in class 4.
theDoctor: Congratulations. Do you encourage him to follow your footsteps, become a doctor too?
Dr. Ojigo: No, he is free to make his own choices when the time comes. I will only guide him then. He wanted to become a pilot, like most boys, and then it changed to wanting to be a policeman, now he wants to become a police-pilot (laughing). I am so proud of him.
theDoctor: all kids want to become pilots at some point. All the best to him.
Dr. Ojigo: Thank you!
Talking to Dr. Ojigo, the Kisumu pediatrician was a great encouragement. Even the most local of village girls could become whatever she set out to be. And as Lupita Nyong’o, daughter of our land put it, no matter where you come from, your dreams are valid. theDoctor wishes Dr. Ojigo all the best in her endeavors. May the Almighty grant her all her hearts desires.
By Nyadimu Festo