Who is a clinical officer?
A clinical officer is a gazetted officer licensed by the clinical officers council to practice medicine in Kenya. To become a clinical officer one has to undergo a mandatory 3 year training in clinical medicine and surgery from a recognized institution and another 12 months internship or pursue a degree in clinical medicine and surgery/community health for 5 years and a one year mandatory internship. A clinical officer can also specialize in Oncology, ophthalmology, gynaecology,ENT, pediatrics,othorpaedics, anesthesia at a higher national diploma. With a degree a clinical officer in Kenya currently can specialize in emergency medicine, family medicine, Human anatomy, Human physiology, forensic medicine, tropical medicine, ophthalmology and oncology and palliative medicine. One can also venture into the public health field and pursue masters in epidemiology, public health, monitoring and evaluation and the list is endless.
Is there a difference between a clinical officer and a medical officer?
As discussed earlier a clinical officer undergoes 4 years training at a diploma level and 5 years training at a degree level. A medical officer undergoes training for 7 years and is registered under Kenya medical and practicing board. Like a clinical officer a medical officer specializes in many fields in medicine but a clinical officer is limited in specializing in surgical fields.
A medical officer will earn more in comparison to a clinical officer with a salary range of 100000 to 300000 depending on area of specialization and a clinical officer will have a salary range of 30000 to 300000 also depending on level of education and specialization.
In terms of service delivery a clinical officer will render equally same services as a medical officer and it is good to note that those clinical officers who have advanced to degree levels have equal medical knowledge as medical officers. Specialized clinical officers are also masters at their areas of specialization.
What are the challenges of being a clinical officer?
As a clinical officer it takes time and effort to become a “super clinical officer” one has to undergo years of training and education advancements and it can take one upto 15 years of cumulative training to become a consultant in his/her own field.
Like any other medical cadre, job hunting is also an issue but there is always light at the end of the tunnel, one thing I can assure you is that it’s difficult to miss a job opportunity in this nation, some pay well and some pay poorly. My advice is once you get a job start looking for greener pastures and advance on your education and again think of becoming an entrepreneur rather than an employee.
Being a clinical officer is a noble calling, Kenya needs more clinical officers to bridge the patient doctor gap and it’s good to acknowledge that without clinical officers HIV/AIDS , Malaria, tuberculosis would still be a menace in this nation,we need more clinical officers at a masters level and PhD levels,let’s not just aim at the higher national diploma.
I am a proud clinical officer and the sky is the limit.