Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A bit about me, this blog and Ebola...

Welcome to my new blog! Last week I found out I am due to start volunteering with the Kings Sierra Leone Partnership Ebola Isolation Unit in Freetown from December. I am equally nervous and excited and just feel really privileged to be in a position to offer assistance in this devastating epidemic. I hope to use this blog to track the ups and downs of my experiences and offer a bit of reflection on the situation on the ground whilst I'm there.

So to introduce myself... I am Claire, a junior doctor living and working in East London. I trained in Newcastle which was fantastic; a medical school which generates well-rounded, academically competent but modest doctors who are really encouraged to focus on patient-centred care. I moved to London two years ago and have been working in Homerton Hospital where the population could not be more different from Newcastle if it tried! Personally, this is the best bit of my job; I love the fact that culture and society plays such a huge role in health beliefs and working in a hospital where most patients do not have English as their first language adds a certain complexity and excitement to the job.

I've always been passionate about travel and global health. I think it's thanks to my family being seasoned travellers. My gap year teaching in a rural village school in Myanmar and exploring less frequented areas of Central Asia certainly set me off to a good start in independent travel. See my travel blog for more info. At med school, Medsin (a global health network of students) allowed me to channel this experience into focusing on education and advocacy of reducing health inequalities around the globe and on a local basis. My Masters in Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 2010 was the biggest step in shaping my career so far.

Now, as a qualified doctor, I'm really looking forward to applying the skills I've developed and the opportunity to learn from those in the thick of the Ebola response. I have certainly a steep learning curve ahead of me... from using personal protective equipment to learning some Krio, from logistic planning with other agencies to emotionally coping being away for Christmas for the first time in my life. So wish me luck and watch this space!

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