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'disaster preparedness and infectious diseases' - Environmental health at U of M personal statement


hybrid 1 / 2  
Nov 12, 2015   #1
Personal stament for mph in environmental health

My heart melted and I broke down in tears when I witnessed the realities of life in K internally displaced peoples' (IDP) camp Abuja, Nigeria, a refuge to people who fled the persistent Boko haram killings in Northern Nigeria. Having gone there as a part-time volunteer, it was my first time in close proximity with victims of insurgence and I was understandably curious. Their experience had been traumatic- stories of rape, starvation, families fleeing their homes at night, members left behind probably killed, female children abandoned by parents eager to unburden themselves- were common. The living condition however, made me doubt how fortunate they really were as the camp reeked of decay, human waste and unwashed bodies. Most suffered from various forms of communicable diseases because there was neither portable water, nor visible methods of sewage disposal. The only shelter they had were the clothes on their back. My interest in environmental health sprung from this experience. I am passionate about developing sustainable ways to maintain sanitary conditions in disaster areas especially refugee camps, to help improve the quality of life of those affected by such misfortune. By doing this, resources can be channelled into procuring aid and ultimately, rebuilding. This is the reason I want to join the environmental health program at U of M.

I have volunteered to different causes for over ten years and currently volunteer to M, a non-profit organisation that caters to IDPs in Nigeria. As a medical doctor, my duties were primarily to offer free medical care. My focus however, changed that day. I was going to ensure that these people learned to live healthier, with more dignity and I was going to teach them how. Having practiced medicine in the tropics for three years, I have learned to work under pressure and make do with meagre medical supplies. In this case however, I quickly surmised that no amount of medicine was going to be enough, without tackling the source of their illness. That day, with the help of the older children, I taught those who came to our make-shift clinic how to keep their environment clean, separate and dispose waste with minimal pollution and made them understand how essential it was to their survival. On subsequent visits, we mapped the camp and made signs to mark areas to be used only for bathing, washing and refuse disposal. Time away from the camp not spent at my two jobs- a primary healthcare centre and a fertility clinic- was spent collecting relief materials from donors.

The condition at the camp was similar to my childhood environment. The difference, I was home and had a mother to teach me. At five, life felt different in our rural community U, south eastern Nigeria. Being an only daughter with two elder brothers, our lives depended on the farm left by our father who died of an undiagnosed illness before I was born. My brothers and I learnt to cultivate and indeed become subsistence farmers at an early age. We worked to supplement our mother's meagre income from her job at a small bakery in the outskirts of our village. Our sources of income however did not leave room for luxuries like hospital bills. At twelve, marriage proposals came, seeking me, offering to "lighten our burden". My mother turned them down, even though we practically lived on charity, sending me off to boarding school and away from prying eyes. Boarding school however, was not as safe as she thought.

I obtained my medical degree at E University Nigeria, in 2012 and currently hold a position as an assistant lecturer at Federal University N. Though my research experiences vary, I have taken advantage of each opportunity to learn. My first exposure to public health was in my 5th year as a medical student, when we were required to carry out an independent research to qualify for our examination. My class was divided into groups of four, I led my team to study Female Senior Secondary School Students' knowledge and experience with sexual harassment at school. I proposed this topic following my own experiences. We sampled public and private schools who didn't have sexual harassment policies, where girls didn't know they were allowed to report abuse. We organised group counselling sessions where we taught various forms of sexual harassment, possible solutions, encouraged the schools to employ guidance counsellors and make clearly stated sexual harassment policies. From this research, I learned to interpret data and estimate sample size so that it truly represents the relevant population.

During my 18month internship at the UC hospital, Nigeria I participated in The World Maternal Anti-fibrinolytic (WOMAN) Trial- an international, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled drug trial of Tranexamic acid in the management of post-partum hemorrhage. I recruited and screened patients who met the criteria, obtained their informed consent, administered the drug, recorded outcome, and followed up at the post-natal clinic. During the Ebola virus outbreak which coincided with the Nigerian medical doctors' strike, the emergency rooms recorded mortalities that were not only as a result of viral infection, but from "preventive" approaches learned via rumors, as well as ignorance expressed by the public and healthcare givers. I initiated a survey of knowledge of Ebola virus treatment and prevention strategies amongst health care workers in UC hospital, with the aim of structuring their future training. At its conclusion my discovery prompted the Ebola Virus Detection and Prevention Committee (EDPC) at UC hospital on which I served, to organize focused training sessions for community health extension workers in rural areas who happen to be the primary source of health related information to rural dwellers.

Environmental health at U of M appeals to me because its faculty researches address my areas of interest, particularly the works of Professors O and O which emphasize disaster preparedness and infectious diseases. I aspire to acquire knowledge that will equip me to do more on a larger scale, to someday work on relief projects like doctors without borders and eventually have my own program to improve living conditions at refugee camps. Having spent my whole life in an underserved part of the world, I have first-hand experience of environmental factors that contribute to the spread of infection and hands on experience in their prevention and control. I am therefore, confident that I have a wealth of knowledge to contribute to the program. Participating in research has helped me consolidate my expertise in the management of ethical issues and develop skills in data collection, management, and interpretation.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Nov 12, 2015   #2
Hi, the personal side of your essay is really very interesting. However, it is too long winded in terms of how it represents the development of your interest in public health. Your story is indeed heart wrenching and allows the reviewer to see the kind of world that you came from and how it has affected the person you have become. However, it runs a bit too long.

I see that you have included information in this paper that can be better used in your statement of purpose and other essay prompts for your application. You don't really need to delve so deep into your work experience and CV information in the personal statement. Just present the information that highlights the development of your interest in public health.

The final part of the essay that speak of the professors you look forward to learning from and working with should be placed in your statement of purpose instead of your personal statement. Removing that part from the essay will shorten the essay and make it faster and easier to read. It doesn't really apply as a part of the information provided in a personal statement.

So, edit out the parts that talk about your professional experience and the part about the professors and the essay will come out as better geared towards a personal statement. Right now, you have a combination of a personal statement and statement of purpose. The paper has an identity crisis :-) So you need to give it just one identity and save the other one for a more appropriate time. After you do that, the grammar portion can be fixed as well :-)
OP hybrid 1 / 2  
Nov 12, 2015   #3
Hello V,
Thank you for your insightful contribution. I guess I have a lot to learn. I didn't even know there was a difference between statement of purpose and personal statement. I am looking it up right now, so I can write better. About being too long, I agree but don't know how to shorten it without removing the heart of the story. I already made edits- it was 1500 words. Any suggestions?

H
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Nov 12, 2015   #4
Chika, I'd like to share my thoughts in your essay, at least for the last two paragraphs.

- We organiz ed group counsellingcounseling sessions

- During my 18month( no need to specify timeline ) internship at the UC hospital,
- but from "preventive" approacheslearnedheard via rumors,

- Environmental health at U of M appeals to me becauseas its faculty researches
- to someday( your futuristic approach should be coupled with optimism) work on
- I have first-hand experience ofon environmental factors that
- I am therefore, confident that I have a wealth

Well, Chika, that's about it for me, not much corrections really, you have a well written essay and you have justified the purpose os your prompt.

For future reference, refrain from adding verbs that connotes negative insights, this might affect the overall message of your essay.
OP hybrid 1 / 2  
Nov 12, 2015   #5
Thanks J,
Can you please elaborate on the negative verbs? Thanks for your corrections.
C
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Nov 12, 2015   #6
Chika, it's good to hear from you. It's another student that EF is able to help and that gives us the jest to move forward and do what we do best.

Now, I mentioned negative verbs or words in general, what I mean is using the words but, cannot or something like preventing you to complete the sentence with no opposing ideas or message.

Instead of using such negative words, you can replace it with, however, in spite or phrases like, on a lighter note, looking at the bright side or leaning towards, etc.,

this word and phrases will definitely help you in expressing the same message with the same level of impact that you want your readers to note.

I hope I was able to help and if you need further assistance do let us know here on EF and we'll be very glad to help.


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