The pursuit of a satisfying and meaningful career is my ultimate goal and a master of public health degree is a stepping stone along the path to a future career. For me, it is also a responsibility I owe to myself. My university education exposed me to a number of public health issues. While at university, I was affiliated to an anti AIDS club whose increased emphasis was placed on behavioural change to prevent the risk of STDs, HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancies.
I particularly joined this club so I could make an impact on fellow students and prevent the spread of the virus as I had lost a lot of my close relations to HIV/AIDS. It was from this point that my interest in public health arose. During my fifth year of university education, I proposed to conduct a research on the role of physiotherapy in patients HIV/AIDS patients but could not conduct the named research due to funding difficulties and ethics issues.
Nevertheless, I still picked on another public health topic ‘the prevalence of complaints of arm, neck and shoulder among office workers who use computers’ and I earned myself an award as the best graduating student in Research. The findings of the study further prompted me to make a difference and prevent preventable illnesses, thus considered public health research as a career. My work experience as a physiotherapist is within the field of public health and has developed my disease identification, treatment and to a lesser extent preventive skills.
I am currently engaged in community (outreach)programmes for HIV/AIDS patients. My role in this activity, is to identify and mobilise patients who are on Anti retro virus drugs who have residual effects (weak limbs) of ARVs and other people in the community who might actually need physiotherapy services. Though this integration of physiotherapy services with HIV/AIDS activities at the hospital is still in its infancy stage, as a department we have achieved an increase of 30% in the number of patients captured in the community and are actually accessing our services.
What about the rest of the 70% ? we could still do better. Personally, being the overseer of the physiotherapy aspect of the HIV/AIDS programme I have earned a great deal of insight on issues pertaining to.
However, each time we embark on the usual community visits and find cases that could have been prevented, I feel challenged and to some extent motivated to do more than I am already doing because currently our main emphasis is on the curative aspect of disease rather than prevention and primary care . in addition, I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism in 2009 and I realise that I am not able to meet the physical demands of my current job and would want to contribute to population health at an administrative level.
My participation in the programme confirmed my budding interest in preventive medicine and improved quality of care. I am drawn to public health because of its unbounded solutions to health problems. I am in search of public health skills develop and be able to contribute positively towards the health of the community and society at large.
In addition, I feel that my current degree alone, is not offering me adequate career opportunities, in which case gaining a further qualification particularly master of public health, will provide me with new career options and advance my prospects immensely. After I complete the master of public health programme, I will have acquired problem solving skills, locating and using information effectively and analytical thinking skills.
In view of this, I intend to join an Non Governmental Organisation dealing in public health issues and possibly work in a rural area as that is where the bulk of the work is to be done. Currently I am studying for a certificate in HIV/AIDS management, I believe the certificate and the master of public health coupled together will help me perform better in my future job role as I would like to be involved in the devising of programmes focused to prevent and provide quality health care especially in HIV/AIDS related projects.