Students and global health experts share their experiences working with communities.

Category: Janet




As I come to the end of my summer practicum, addressing patient satisfaction in maternal health services in Ghana, I ponder on how underestimated the power in numbers are. Just like the popular African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together,” I reflect on my overall experience in comparison to the adage which brought a whole lot of understanding and meaning to my life and how I approach my career. It further reflects the importance of multidisciplinary approach to solving problems. The recent pandemic robbed us of the physical support system but has also made us develop the skills in virtual communication.

At the start of my practicum, I wondered how I could make an impact without being physically present in the practicum setting. But as I conclude, I realize I learnt a lot and still had my usual support though virtual but very present. Help was always an email, phone call or Zoom meeting away and surprisingly equally as effective.

Patient satisfaction is considered a proxy for quality of health care. This practicum enlightened me on many aspects of care that is neglected which when considered greatly impacts service delivery. Something as basic as provider introduction and knowledge of service rendered prior gave patients a sense of trust and increased assess to health care and compliance.

My mini "African Union" in N.C.

My mini “African Union” in N.C.

In all, I learned that to make interventions that are sustainable, the voice of the patient must be considered. I am glad that I got to be a part of a team that worked virtually to impact a change in my home country and grateful for the support from my mini  “African Union.”


Learning to make the best of a virtual internship

By Janet Okraku- Mantey

At the start of the Spring semester, my aim was to secure a global focused practicum. The thoughts of working directly with researchers impacting change through public health research in settings similar to home influenced this. As the semester progressed, we were hit with a global pandemic and chances of international travel gradually faded.

I successfully secured a practicum with Kybele, a non-profit organization, assisting with an ongoing research in Ghana to identify the gaps in obstetric service delivery by assessing patient satisfaction level to care received using survey instruments. I have been tasked with conducting an in-depth literature review to identify evidence-based methods used by researchers to assess patient satisfaction. Additionally, with the help of my preceptor, we will conduct a quantitative analysis of data from previously conducted surveys and compare our findings to those in recently published studies.

Securing the practicum was a bittersweet experience as I was faced with the canceled possibility of having to have practicum in my home country and not being able to be present. Though the pandemic took away the possibility of that experience, it gave room for me to learn to be helpful without being present.

My outdoor office.

My outdoor office.

Over the past few weeks, I have connected remotely with the librarians in the UNC Health Sciences Library to identify appropriate search terms to identify recently published literature on various databases such as PubMed, Scopus and Google scholar. I have successfully read and reviewed about 150 articles and in the process of completing my literature review.

I am still bummed I was unable to do this practicum in person in Ghana and get the opportunity to spend some time with family back home, but I have learned through this pandemic to take a day at a time and appreciate things around me.

I am thus grateful for the friends I have here in North Carolina and appreciative of the time I get to spend with them after work hours. We have spent time together cooking, baking, exercising and hiking and having great conversations.