While in danger of sounding repetitive, my summer practicum experience was not exactly what I had originally imagined. To be honest, I felt a sense of disappointment not being able to spend the summer in Johannesburg, South Africa working directly with the amazing team at the Anova Health Institute and their peers at Wits University. However, as soon as I began my practicum my attitude completely changed, and I couldn’t help but feel such appreciation to still be included in the incredible work that Anova is doing for their community. The fact the Anova was still willing to invest time and energy into my professional and personal development in such unprecedented circumstances was humbling.
The project I am currently working on is part of the UNC-Wits University Implementation Science partnership. As part of this program, I am working with the Anova Health Institute, a leading organization in the implementation of HIV care in South Africa. Currently, I am analyzing data from patient file audits in order to identify gaps in care, especially in regard to a new HIV treatment protocol that was rolled out across South Africa in December 2019. The goal of this project is for Anova to develop recommendations for quality improvement within their partnering facilities in order to be able to best support the health of the patients they serve.
Although I’m completing this practicum remotely, the team at Anova has made me feel included even thousands of miles away. For example, last week I was sitting in on a staff meeting where each person took the time to welcome me and explain the projects they were working on so that I could follow along with their conversations. This small gesture highlighted how global connectedness can transcend great physical distances. I am overwhelmingly grateful to still be able to engage in this important work in the face of such difficult circumstances for many across the world. Quality HIV care is especially vital during this pandemic. I am honored to be growing and learning from incredible professionals in the field who are committed to improving the health and well-being of those living with HIV.