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Clara Mpanga

After juggling Edinburgh's online MSc in Surgical Sciences with a masters in Malawi, Dr Clara Mpanga is now an orthopaedic consultant and board member of Women in Surgery in Africa (WiSA).

Name

Chikumbutso Clara Mpanga-Munthali

Degree 

MSc in Surgical Sciences

Year of Graduation 2014

Tell us about your time at the University  

Clara Mpanga

Firstly, a little background about me: I was born on 10 December 1983 at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. I was chosen to visit Oxford University as an elective student in 2007 for six weeks. I finished my Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree with Malawi College of Medicine in 2008. I got married in 2013 and together we have an eight-month-old girl child.

I chose the University of Edinburgh because it was willing to admit online students on the course with funding from Johnson and Johnson, and because it is a well-known, reputable university.

The study format was very engaging and the smaller groups encouraged every individual to participate and acquire the necessary knowledge on the topic, irrespective of the resources available in each country.

Since every student had a picture on their profile it made the teaching feel real time. It was encouraging to know that, though not physically in one room, a lot of people in different parts of the world were learning the same things and standardising the things learnt.

At the same time as my Edinburgh online studies, I was pursuing a Master of Medicine course in Trauma and Orthopaedics with the University of Malawi.  I also attended several courses including an Advanced Trauma Life Support course, basic surgical skills and sciences courses as well as an AOTrauma course - Basic Principles of Fracture Management. I had the chance to visit Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford on observership as a Fellow for the British Association for Foot and Ankle Surgery in 2014.

I obtained my Master of Science in Surgical Sciences with the University of Edinburgh in 2014, becoming the first female Malawian graduate of the course. I still keep contact with the course coordinator.

​​​​​​​The study format was very engaging and the smaller groups encouraged every individual to participate and acquire the necessary knowledge on the topic, irrespective of the resources available in each country.

Dr Clara MpangaOrthopaedic consultant at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

I finished my Master of Medicine in Trauma and Orthopaedics in 2017 and I am now working as an orthopaedic consultant at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, which is the biggest referral hospital in Malawi. I have a special interest in trauma surgery, trauma research and medical education.

My favourite thing is seeing the smile on people’s faces after being operated on and heading home gives me a lot of satisfaction. But the most challenging thing about my work is that there are people we cannot perform surgery on due to time and resource constraints, and the number of neglected trauma cases due to the low number of orthopaedic surgeons in our country.

Currently I sit on the Board of Women in Surgery in Africa (WiSA) which is an independent body established in 2015 for female surgeons, surgical trainees and women who may be interested in pursuing a career in surgical training in countries under the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). I am also an advocate for girls’ education.

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