My adventure in Saint Lucia has come to an end and I have to admit that it is bittersweet. I have met many of wonderful people that have become close family and friends; enjoyed the amazing local cuisine; and simply loved the beautiful island and island culture.
I had a great experience working with the Ministry of Health and engaging with the community. My time with the MOH is invaluable and I encourage other people to consider working abroad as well. Every day I learned about a new inspiration through the exchange of ideas and creative innovations to be the best person I could be while working or simply living my life. Not only have I become a better person, I like to believe that CPU and I have gained momentum to continue to push forward throughout the trails and tribulations of working in Public Health and to employ the different technical skills we have learned from each other.
I have to say the most important skill that I developed during my time working with the MOH is global health diplomacy. As a result, my skills in capacity building, negotiation, and systems thinking have improved. The art and practice of negotiating with stakeholders and supervisors/coworkers during this placement has challenged my ability to be flexible in modifying project methodologies, to adapt implementation technologies, and to strengthen my understanding of what it means to be a consultant under contract. Understanding the dynamic relationships between the public health system and the social system in relation to healthcare delivery, and my role in it all, has been an important aspect in learning how to navigate the political environment. These are very valuable lessons learned that will continue to improve my skills as a global health professional.
Now that the time is near for me to graduate with my Master of Public Health, I am more confident in my skills as a public health practitioner… Finding a job that I thoroughly enjoy will be the issue. In the end, I made a plan, I found my path, and I believe as long as I keep the courage to press on, I will arrive to my destination—wherever that may be.
Who knows, I might end up back in Saint Lucia with the Ministry of Health.
Thank you for joining me on this mini-adventure. I wonder where we will end up next!
All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.
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.