Written by Matt Jalink, MSc Candidate in Community Health and Epidemiology
Interview with CCGH Attendee Rachel Ollivier, MScN Candidate
Rachel had the opportunity to attend the three-day Canadian Conference for Global Health (CCGH) in Ottawa at the end of October. The conference brought together leaders in the global health field to present and discuss current challenges and various research projects and initiatives aimed to combat these challenges. I had the chance to sit down with Rachel Ollivier, a Master of Science in Nursing candidate at Dalhousie University, to ask her about her experiences at the conference.
What are you studying here at Dalhousie and how did your past and current studies influence your experience at the Canadian Conference for Global Health?
I’ve just begun my first year of the Master of Science in Nursing program here at Dal, and I’ll be working with Dr. Megan Aston and Dr. Sheri Price as my co-supervisors. My thesis research will aim to explore the experiences of postpartum childbearing persons with perinatal sexual health education using a feminist post-structural methodology. Before coming to Dalhousie, I completed my undergraduate nursing degree at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. While studying at UBCO, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant with Dr. Kathy Rush on her work in Western Province, Zambia after completing my final nursing practicum there; an experience that spurred a keen interest in global health research.
What was your overall impression of the conference?
I really enjoyed it! There was a diverse range of topics presented and discussed; the content of the sessions was fairly dense, though very thought-provoking. I especially enjoyed the workshop sessions, some of which were in my area of interest, being maternal and reproductive health. Shawna O’Hearn [Director of the Global Health Office] co-chaired one standout session on allyship in global health partnerships.
What was your favourite session you attended? Who was presenting and what did you take away from the discussion?
It’s tough to choose one favourite, but one workshop that I really enjoyed was “From gender blind to gender transformative global health research”, lead by Rosemary Morgan from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Sarah Ssali from Makerere University in Uganda. We discussed how gender analysis should be incorporated into global health research. The ‘Allyship’ workshop was also a favourite because it explored the importance of acknowledging privilege and how that plays into fostering meaningful, impactful global health partnerships. It’s a topic that some researchers, such as my supervisor Dr. Megan Aston, have been promoting for years but remains ignored by many- it’s the elephant in the room. Allyship is a day-to-day practice and the presenters discussed how and why impact must be emphasized over intent when working with others, whether it be abroad or at home.
Did you meet any interesting people over the three days?
Absolutely, there were so many great global health leaders to meet and connect with. I was able to reconnect with Dr. Fastone Goma, my colleague from the University of Zambia. We got to know each other better and finally meet in person after many emails back and forth throughout the summer! I also had the chance to meet Dr. Vic Neufeld from the University of Victoria through the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research. Dr. Neufeld is a wonderful, passionate mentor and is great at facilitating relationships and partnerships in the global health field. Dr. Sarah Ssali from the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University in Uganda was also an amazing person to connect with and shared very valuable insight.
What are your future career plans and how did attending the CCGH influence this plan?
I will be applying to bridge into the PhD in Nursing program here at Dalhousie as the next step in pursuing a career in global health research! I’m incredibly fortunate to have mentors both here in Canada and abroad to help facilitate future work in the field. One of my many reasons for choosing Dalhousie for my graduate studies was the opportunity to become involved with the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Planning & Research, where I am currently working as a research assistant with Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, the Centre’s Director, and Janet Rigby. I am also planning to apply for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, which would allow me the opportunity to travel to either Ifakara or Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, from May-August 2018, to assist with research, likely in the area of maternal and newborn health.
I would like to thank Rachel for sitting down with me to share her fantastic experience at the Canadian Conference for Global Health, and we wish her the best in her future studies and research career!
For more information on this annual conference please visit the CCGH website.