February 1, 2017, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham
Cherishing opportunities for reflection
This week we hear from Ralph Kwame Akyea about his placement with Nottingham City Council, undertaken during his MPH Masters in Public Health with the School of Medicine.
I was offered a 2-month placement with the Public Health Department of the Nottingham City Council after a rather competitive selection process. Prior to the start of the placement, I made a conscious decision to have no expectations or preconceived notions but just have high standards towards my contribution. Having worked predominantly in a clinical setting as a physician, this was going to be my first full-time work experience in an office setting.
My induction and orientation was very good. I had a tour of the 4 floors of the magnificent Loxley House and one-on-one meetings with all the Public Health Consultants and key members of the team. Each shared what their present roles are and how they fit into the bigger public health policies aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of citizens in Nottingham.
The tasks for the placement were well defined from the beginning and provided a great opportunity to develop practical skills. I collaborated and worked with a number of partner organisations; built a good social network; and have been involved in a wide range of activities, such as Public Health Forum and Strategic Group Meetings which have all broadened my understanding of planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating public health programmes/interventions. All these equipped me with relevant skills for my chosen career in Public Health.
The Public Health Department was an open-minded, supportive and friendly environment where I was given the opportunity to work independently. Through the process, my personal development was centred on improving my time management, communication, interpreting data and writing skills.
‘The public health focus, structures, and approach in the UK are significantly different when compared to my home country (Ghana). I had significant opportunities for reflection over the 2-month period and those times are, for me, are the most cherished aspects of the placement. In such reflective moments I’ve tried to be mindful of ‘differences in context’ to ensure I don’t get overly frustrated by the seemingly lack of effective public health structures in my home country.’
Overall, it has been a remarkable and very rewarding experience to make my small contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of citizens in Nottingham City.