I have made great progress in achieving the goals I had initially outlined for myself. I better understand the current state of diabetes in Ethiopia. This understanding comes, not only from estimates and health professionals, but from the patients themselves. While conversing with patients and distributing the prepared questionnaire, I have learned a great deal about diabetes as an illness and also the social constructs that have a great role in its management.
In comparison to what I knew before the beginning of my internship, I believe that I have made great progress. Moreover, I have obtained great insight into the field of public heath – what it entails, the extent of its need, and its importance in various fields. I have also, as I had outlined in my initial application, seen the important intersection of public health and education.
I am currently most proud of my progress with the questionnaire. Though my proposal took an unexpectedly long time to get approved by the head department, I already have over 100 completed questionnaires. With each filled questionnaire, there is a unique story.
It has been a privilege and honor to be able to sit down and hear these stories directly from the patients themselves. Additionally, having a large number of questionnaires will allow me to draw conclusions that are able to be generalized and therefore have a greater impact.
The other great thing I was able to participate in is the EDA’s monthly educational seminar. These seminars help diabetic patients learn about the disease, its complications, and how to manage this chronic illness. These seminars take place last Saturday of every month so I was able to attend the June session. In addition to learning about diabetes and how it affects the heart, I was able to distribute questionnaires to the association’s members. The seminar I attended was much greater than I expected – nearly 80 patients attended.
Skill building often takes place when and where we least expect it. There are certainly times where we are intentionally learning or practicing specific skills that we need in the future. However, I often find myself and am currently building skills that can be applied to various aspects of my future where I least expect it. While talking with the diabetic patients at the clinic or EDA members, I have observed my skills in social interactions become increasingly fine-tuned. I am also becoming more aware of the various factors that are associated with chronic illnesses such as diabetes in Ethiopia that are not medically treatable. Understanding this will allow me to better understand the depth and increasing need for public health as it is the field, I believe, that brings together both medicine and the social needs of the patients. This understanding, without a doubt, will transfer to my future career plans and involvement elsewhere.