The first female neurosurgeon trained in Zimbabwe, Dr Sharon Soko of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals has spoken on the challenging profession saying becoming a neurosurgeon is extremely hard.
She said the programme stretches for more than a decade involving multiple medical degrees, years of intense study and difficult examinations, ZBC News reported.
One needs between 13 and 16 years to qualify for the profession which deals with the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Dr Sharon Soko narrates:
It holds a very dear place in my heart because as much as I said that I wanted to be a doctor growing up, I wasn’t so sure what kind of a doctor I wanted to be, but when I was 13 my mom had what we thought was a stroke, she couldn’t talk she couldn’t walk it was a pretty scary experience for a 13-year-old at home with a mom who was like that.
When she was taken by ambulance to Mutare Hospital and transferred to Parirenyatwa in Harare, to us that was bad news and when were told that she did not have a stroke, but she had a growth in her brain, what they called a brain tumour, in our minds, it was like mum was gone.
She went for an operation and when she came back she could talk to us, she could identify us and to me, that was a miracle. In my head I was like this doctor is a miracle worker and I was so interested in knowing what the doctor was and that’s when I was told that these people are called neurosurgeons.
We were told the tumour would return since they did not manage to remove all of it, but we had a year with Mhamha. Unfortunately, exactly after a year the tumour did come back and it was severe this time and she did not make it. I wasn’t discouraged, but I was more encouraged to think I could be instrumental in giving a young girl out there or another young boy out there another chance to be with their mom.
From a biochemistry degree and later on to medicine, the 14-year journey to become a neurosurgeon had its own trials and tribulations, especially being the only female in a male-dominated industry.
Dr Sharon Soko said her determination to become a neurosurgeon made her overlook the length of the journey and the long working hours.
She said being a girl in that field was intimidating and other doctors would ask her “neuro why? Because it wasn’t common, it was difficult.” She added:
It’s a beautiful feeling to think that I dreamt this, I wanted this and I am here. I wanted to do this for my mom and to prove that ladies can also do this.
Dr Soko says she owes her success to the government which allowed her to further her studies.