By Tosin Ariyo
The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences here. For more information, visit our program page.
My field experience gave me the opportunity to visualize and understand concepts that had been discussed in class. I was able to perform evaluations, data analysis, and community assessments based on the skills I have gained from my prior coursework. As a doctoral student, leadership is at the core of our curriculum, and we had often discussed different leadership styles and work cultures, this field experience gave me a better perception of just how varied and important this aspect of leadership is to increase work efficiency.
Spending the past couple months working on cancer surveillance, analysis and writing a report has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Frustration- at bureaucracy which is to be expected when dealing with governmental institutions, Excitement-at learning new things, and putting my acquired knowledge and skills to use, Sadness- to see the disparities in health and resources that exist between developed and developing countries, and Hope at the realization that developing countries have come a long way from where we used to be and can continue to make progress.
My career goal is to lead health initiatives/agencies committed to improving the health of underserved communities. I chose a DrPH instead of a Ph.D. because I desired a practice-based career, one in which implementation of evidence-based practices is the focus. The field experience has been an opportunity to implement the knowledge and skills I have acquired so far in preparation for my career helped me to identify both my strong areas and those where I need more improvement. As a result, I do feel better prepared as I am able to further customize my coursework to meet my educational needs, I am also able to visualize a clearer destination for my educational and professional journey.
In my short time here, I have learned a lot, experienced research outside the jurisdiction (and familiarity) of the IRB J, attended meeting after meeting, experienced a different culture, Zip-lined over Victoria Falls, and practiced Public Health.
I came, I learned, I will return!