Roughly 4.5 weeks after coming to Saint Lucia to intern with the MOH, I reflected on my growth and development. I have to admit that I am amazed at the transformation that has transpired right under my nose!
This is my first position working for a government, or any professional position for that matter. Even though my degree is Global Health Practice, I wondered if I would even want to work for a government and if I do, to what degree could I directly affect health. After a bit of reflection, I realized how silly I was to question the affect strengthening health systems would have directly on the health of the community. The work I am doing is relevant to global/public heath–it is the government’s responsibility to implement evidence-based health policiesto improve the health status of the country. Establishing an effective and efficient healthcare infrastructure will allow for health programs to deliver health services and interventions to monitor and/ or reduce avoidable moralities and morbidities.
(Now whether governments do or not is another discussion. More importantly, I wished it was easier in the U.S. to have this type of impact on health.)
It is expected of Global Health Professionals to be able to gain employment with both international and domestic government and non-government institutions. We are expected to apply our training to solve issues regarding complex healthcare delivery systems that are affected by global influences in poor-resource settings. We receive the proper training to assess and develop solutions using intervention strategies and critical thinking. This placement with the MOH has not only allowed me to evaluate my ability as a global health professional, it also has allowed me to grow professionally within my career.
Remember that list of 27 ASPH Competencies that I wanted to improve while working here in Saint Lucia? Well, half-way into my trip here I have reached 50! (Yes 50 ASPH Competencies!!) I am not going to list them all, but I will provide the ASPH Competencies here or here for you to go through and pick out which 50 I am referring to. (Feel free to ask me if you are right!). The most important competencies for me at this moment were Health Policy and Management, Diversity and Culture, and Systems Thinking. I did not have much experience in Health Policy and Systems Thinking until I came to the MOH. I mean, yes I knew of theories and concepts, but there is but so much understanding you can gain within the classroom setting. As far as Diversity and Culture, there is no other way to really understand and appreciate a different culture than your own other than to immerse yourself into another. I continue to learn many things about myself as I continue to learn about this beautiful country. Those experiences naturally become life lessons that I will carry with me into the future.
It really rings true when they say traveling (not being a tourist) changes you and your world perspective.
You Cannot Create Experience, You Must Undergo It
– Albert Camus
This quote sums up my mid-point assessment quite nicely.