By: Rachel Ollivier, PhD student, Dalhousie University
The following was prepared by Rachel as part of her invited panellist presentation at the 2018 Global Health Students & Young Professionals Summit (GHSYPS) in Toronto in late November. The panel was aimed at providing students and young professionals with an opportunity to discuss and share insights related to career preparation, education, interdisciplinary approaches in global health, and opportunity-seeking. With Dr. Donald Sutherland acting as moderator, Rachel participated as a panel speaker alongside Katrina Plamondon, Dr. Genevieve Bois, and Abena Thomas.
Good afternoon everyone,
In the next 5 minutes, I want to share with you 3 key learnings. I’ve nursed in 3 provinces, 3 countries, and am currently a PhD student at Dalhousie…so I hope I have something useful to share with you today!
Learning is both a practice and an attitude
- An attitude of learning will never go to waste and is lifelong- there is no endpoint.
- Oftentimes as students or young professionals, I think we’re taught that expertise is the goal.
- Be humble in the little you know and you will never go blind to what surrounds you.
- Example: I used to use the world “help” a lot when I was talking about my global health work. This implied that the entities I was working with needed my help.
- The point is: don’t aim to be the expert, but rather find ways to challenge what is said or done.
- Any positive feedback I have received as a student or a nurse has not come from getting it right the first time or knowing the answer. In fact, I learn much less when I get it right the first time than when I have to adapt, problem-solve, and diversify my perspective in order to achieve a set goal or outcome.
- Being able to always try again, improve on my abilities each time, and reflect on mistakes or shortcomings is what has been most important in achieving my goals.
- Worry about what you can control, not what you can’t. In academia and in clinical practice, there’s constant pressure to know everything, to be personable, well-rounded, knowledgeable, energetic, and enthusiastic at all times. As advocates, practitioners, educators, or researchers in global health, we are human just as any other and must know our boundaries while recognizing that failure is essential to growth. Know that low points also mean something and show you what’s missing.
- Global health is a small world and you never know who or what might come in handy
- The benefit is there and has immensely expanded my opportunities in Canada and abroad
- In fact, I’m up here presenting because of it!