FOCUS ON ......

 

Dr Ibraheem Olayemi Awowole M.B.Ch.B with Honours, FWACS, FMCOG.
Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Perinatology, 
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, 
Ile-Ife,Osun State, Nigeria.

 

How did you get interested in a medical career ?

My interest in the Medical profession developed before I even knew what the profession entails. My passion for health care service delivery culminated in my appointment as the Health Coordinator in both First Grade and High Schools. My resolve grew even stronger as I began to comprehend the enormous health challenges in my Community. I remember being particularly concerned about the well-being of pregnant women as a teenager. There was no looking back since then.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
Nigeria alone contributed 19% of the global burden of maternal deaths in 2015; the last year of the MDG intervention. Worse still, for every maternal death, about 20 other women experience varying degrees of morbidity.The country was therefore classified as having made "No Progress" at the end of the MDG era. As an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Nigeria, this bothersome statistics is translated into real life experience. It could be disheartening certifying so many women dead in pregnancy and puerperium, especially from preventable causes. It is my hope that the renewed drive of the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Health will translate into improvement in the health indices soon. Certainly, the Sustainable Development Goals are achievable, even in my Country.

When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
I was among the 2014 YPL. I was nominated by Professor Akinyinka Omigbodun, a Member in the Nigerian Academy of Science, who interestingly had never met me as at the time he nominated me. The nomination was purely driven by merit.

What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
The programme was of immense benefit to me. Specifically, I learnt to multi-task by delegating duties to colleagues and subordinates rather that expending all my time and energy trying to do everything alone. In addition, I learnt to "stand on the balcony" and observe issues from a panoramic perspective before giving my opinion. This has helped me enormously.

How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
I have become more efficient at implementing necessary official tasks by being a better team player. I also command more attention and respect now because I have learnt not to bare my mind until I had given all issues due considerations by "standing on the Balcony".

What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
Since the YPL in 2014, I have been appointed as Lecturer/Honorary Consultant to the Obafemi Awolowo University and the affiliated Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. I have also completed a second Fellowship in the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.

 
 
Associate Professor Dr Anis Safura Ramli
Consultant Primary Care Physician,
Research Fellow, Institute for Pathology,
Laboratory and Forensic Medicine (I-PPerForM), 
Universiti Teknologi MARA,
Selangor, Malaysia
1. How did you get interested in a medical career ?
Becoming a medical doctor has always been my childhood dream, inspired by my parents. At that point, there was no one in my family who was a doctor. My father is a teacher (now retired) and my mother is a housewife. We led a simple, humble life. I wanted to give back to my family and the society by being a doctor. So, when I secured a scholarship to study Medicine in the UK, it was a childhood dream came true. All praise to the almighty God who gave me the opportunity to become who I am today.
 
2. What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
I was the head of a department in an academic institution for 10 years, and the biggest leadership challenge which I faced was to keep motivating people to do research and to increase the research output e.g. journal publications. Even after 10 years, the performance of many academic staff in my department were sub-optimal in this area. External factors such as lack of funding and lack of human resource to support our work were identified as the main obstacles. Internal factors such as interpersonal problems within the department, issues of multitasking and burnout were identified as the main obstacles. Finding solution was not easy, as I was becoming more frustrated and burnout too. The easiest way out was to end my tenure ship as the head of department in July 2015 and passed the baton to someone else. Since then, new opportunities came by and I was offered to become a fellow of a research centre of excellence. I am much happier in my current role as I have more time to focus on my personal development and academic progress.
 
 
3. When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
I was nominated as a YPL in 2011 by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the time. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Academy of Sciences, Malaysia.
 
4. What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
I enjoyed the sharing sessions of leadership challenges faced by my colleagues from all over the world. There were more similarities than differences. I also learned to enhance my leadership skills during the small group sessions.
 
5. How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
Since 2011, I did my best to effectively communicate the mission and vision of the University to my colleagues, inspiring and engaging them to work with me. Challenges included fighting for limited resources and balancing priorities and responsibilities. When things did not go well within the department and also externally, negotiation and conflict management skills were implemented. At the same time, I also became self-aware of my own frustrations and the feeling of 'burnout' and their impact on others. I managed my emotions by self-reflection and improving upon my weaknesses, redirecting my energy towards finding new opportunities where I can perform best.
 
6. What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
I have recently taken up a post as a fellow of a research centre of excellence, the Institute for Pathology, Laboratory and Forensic Medicine (I-PPerForM), which is also under Universiti Teknologi MARA. My workload consists of 70% research and 30% of other tasks (teaching, clinical services and administrative tasks). I have also been appointed as a member of the I-PPerForM Management Committee.
 
Dr. Anusha Lachman
University of Stellenbosch 
Faculty of Medicine, Tygerberg Campus
Department of Psychiatry
 
How did you get interested in a medical career ?
I was interested from high school in medicine and health related subjects. My interest in paediatrics and psychiatry developed over the years of exposure in different countries.
 
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
The limited resources, overwhelming psychosocial challenges for patients - affecting attendance, adherence and compliance. 
Academically, the lack of mentorship and career guidance from experienced researchers in my field continue to be a challenge for career development.
 
When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
I attended in 2013, heard about it through our university of stellenbosch network
 
What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
Guidance in pursuing an academic career compatible with a clinical career. Seeking out a mentor actively was important and encouraged by the shared experience in the program.
 
How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
I have actively been looking for and have been able to get support from my local university Early Research Career support program. I have found a mentor from Finland who has aligned research interests and translatable work which is helping build my career.
 
What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
I have been on a fellowship to Finland with my mentor and started a PHD. I also have started to provide mentorship myself to junior colleagues
 

Dr. Kaniz Fatema
Assistant Professor in Dept of Critical Care Medicine, 
BIRDEM General Hospital.
Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh

 How did you get interested in a medical career ?
My dream was to be a Journalist & write about the needy & poor people. But my parents wanted me to be a doctor. So, I decided to fulfl their dreams. And I am glad that I did so. Coz I like to treat the sick people & I am very much happy with my works.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
I am from Bangladesh, a developing country in South Asia. When I graduated in 2001, very few women were in the field of Medicine. Most lady doctors chose Gynaecology at that time. So, despite being a female chosing Internal Medicine as my career was the biggest challenge.
 
When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
I was YPL in 2014. I heard about this programme from one of my collegue who was YPL in 2012.
 
What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
I learnt how to deal in difficult situations & how to take the right decision as a leader from the YPL programme. I also met other YPLs from different countries. We had some similarities & also some dissimilarities. Sharing & exchanging our thoughts were also a lesson for us. We also had the opportunities to meet the experts & to know about their lives & how they dealt with their problems.
 
How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
I am implementing my valuable lessons in everyday life while dealing with my colleagues, & official works. The experience of YPL workshop has made me more judgemental & less emotional in taking decisions.
 
 What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
I did my post-graduation in Internal Medicine in 2008 & completed my post-graduation in Critical Care Medicine in 2014 just before the YPL programme. I am the 3rd Critical Care Medicine Specialist in my country. With the experience of YPL, now I am able to do multi-tasking. I have currently started working as Asistant Editor of a medical journal & also working member of 'Continuing Professonal Development' Programme which deals with postgraduate doctors.
 

Dr.  Biljana Gjoneska
Research Assistant
Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Medical Doctor, Junior Researcher,
PhD Candidate in Psychology and Social Neuroscience

How did you get interested in a medical career?

A road tracing the origins of one’s vital interest usually ends where all else starts: the childhood. Simply put, an essential interest is always rooted in the essential years for personal formation. It seems very convenient to mention childhood in the context of leadership since most children are natural-born leaders.  When asked about the future aspirations, rarely would a child give an answer different than: country’s president, world champion, space astronaut or a leading surgeon. Yet, amidst the abundance of straightforward and somewhat expected answers, there are some which are vague and quite exceptional. Those exceptions rise from children that are raised to hold future as a promise and treat life as mystery to discover. They delve into life as if diving into treasure-hunt guided always by their intuition. I was such child.

Very early on, I was certain that I like connecting and communicating with people. However, I lacked the understanding on how this translates into “a grownup profession”. There are plenty of professions using communication to connect with people: a writer, a lawyer, a journalist. But the call of a medical doctor and a neuroscientist above all, relies on a bidirectional relation: connecting through communication (e.g. explaining health issues to patients), and communicating the connections (e.g. explaining neural networks to the wider audience) with the help of personal connections (e.g. using own neural synapses and expanding overall intelligence). 

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?

Addressing the challenges of the national health system bears resemblance to addressing health issues of individual patients. Namely, both can be handled symptomatically or etiologically. In both cases the symptomatic solutions bring temporary relief but often mask the real problem. On the other hand, solutions that address the root of the problems and improve the future prospects, are much needed in the current field of medicine, be it on a macro (national) or micro (individual) level.

The personal struggle for sound, solid and long-lasting carrier solutions can be reached through conciliar meeting with medical colleagues (when considering health problems), or international  meetings with peers (when considering the general health issues). Only through collaboration and calibration with fellow medical experts from across the globe one can move from the zone of experimental to the zone of experience-based solutions, and approach toward evidence-based hands-on problem solving.

When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?

I was Macedonian Representative at the initial YPL Meeting in Berlin, 2011. In the forthcoming years I witnessed how “the seeds of knowledge” planted by our nurturing mentors, grew roots transforming the initial happening into a traditional meeting, blossoming yearly into ever-expanding network of leading medical professionals.My nomination was executed through the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts and was considered as a success story, since it was the case in which a highest research institution served also as a national science coordinator.

What did you learn from the YPL programme?

YPL programme offers a two-tiered system of learning from present and future leaders.The experienced leaders of today and “founding fathers” of YPL Initiative, taught me that the supreme leadership often means following the footsteps within one’s fellowship. The leaders are both, strong-willed and soft-hearted, hard-working and easy-going, firm in their actions but light in their touch, always humble and grounded but aspiring for heights. In summary, their leadership skills rely upon successful binding of opposing polarities in their personalities. I will never forget motherly instinct of Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford to bring together “the young ones” for the first time (upon organizing the first YPL  Meeting), the spontaneity in communication with Prof. Detlev Ganten (upon consultations regarding the publication of the Lancet article), and the fatherly advices of the Italian mentor, Prof. Mario Stefanini.

The enthusiastic leaders of tomorrow and peers within YPL Network, taught me that a promising leadership often means endurance in all hardships. The leaders are resistant to failure (stubbornly confronting all odds), and persistent in striving for success (confronting their modesty and humility in order to stand out).  In summary, their leadership skills rely upon successful confronting of opposing polarities in their personalities. I will never forget the incredible stories of Dr. Raul Destura about overcoming family traditions and becoming a medical doctor instead of a priest, or Dr. Tanvira Sultana’s of going against national currents in the fight for female rights and emancipation.  Yet, aforementioned examples are but a few of the countless fights that a leader must win in order to be able to lead.

How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life?

Being a PhD candidate outside of homeland, I was compelled to continue acquiring knowledge before starting to implement it into my profile as a leader. At La Sapienza University and through the numerous visits to Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei of Rome, once again, I had the chance to reconfirm the lessons learnt at YPL that the Leader should also be a Follower, a Predecessor and Successor, a Public Speaker as well as Messenger.

What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL?

The three-folded nature of the recent developments in my carrier is directly related to the YPL programme so I would like to mention them as follows:The scientific advances e.g. possibility to improve the scientific reasoning through the collaboration with diverse profiles of peers from various countries in joint writing and co-authoring of scientific publications.The academic advances e.g. possibility to establish communication with professors from the welcoming institution for my doctoral studies and to receive moral support as well as advices regarding the future career.The social advances e.g. possibility to establish connection with wide array of fellow colleagues within the international community.

Dr Suneth Buddhika Agampodi
Department of Community Medicine
Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Rajarata University of Sri Lanka
Saliyapura, Anuradhapura 50008
Sri Lanka
IAMP YPL 2012
(Click on the photo to link to the YPL Directory)
 
How did you get interested in a medical career?
In Sri Lankan schools, it always says that the best students for Medicine. So I wanted to be in this group!
 
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
The most challenging is to select public health and still involve in clinical, microbiological and other medical related areas. In our country, if you select public health people forget that you have an MBBS and there are various obstacles to work.
 
When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
In 2012, one of the eminent professor visited Anuradhapura for field work and he observed the amount of work I was doing in a resource poor settings. He was a member from the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science and he nominated me for YPL.
 
What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
First and most important, to know that I was not alone. All young leaders have challenges and obstacles. This is a universal truth. Knowing that you are not alone always helps. Then I observed how different YPLs are overcoming their own problems in different ways. I saw the determination and the responsibilities of others and inanition, for the first time I learnt about leadership theories in a proper way.
 
How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
Earlier I was reluctantly be proactive and had the thinking that I should wait till my time is right. In YPL I learnt that the time will be write for you only when "you" are ready. So I change my attitude toward everything and from 2012 to 2015 it made a big difference.
 
What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
I was a probationary lecturer then and now I'm awaiting confirmation of my Full Professorship. I'm the head of the department, Director of Maternal and Child Health Research Unit and the Lead Epidemiologist of Tropical Disease Research Unit of Rajarata University. There are many more achievements during these three years my carrier which I partly attribute to the attitudinal change I got from YPL.
 
Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, 
MD, DTM&H, FIDSA, FPCP
Director National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, 
National Institutes of HealthThe Philippines
IAMP YPL 2013
(Click on the photo to link to YPL Directory page)

How did you get interested in a medical career?
As a child, I was interested in a science career. My mom always liked to tell her friends that I had declared I was going to be a "scientist." This led to me going to a national science high school, followed by a biology major in college. It was at this time that I met my future father-in-law, who is a national scientist, but first and foremost, a doctor. I then realized that a medical career and a career in science were not only compatible, they could be complementary. And at that point I decided I was going to pursue medicine, and ended up being a physician and a scientist.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
Since I had trained in the United States for specialty and subspecialty training, the decision to    return home was fraught with uncertainty. There was no guarantee of adequate income,  support or acceptance from colleagues. When I first arrived, I spent the first six months staring  at the wall in clinic, and writing proposals for funding that were promptly rejected or  considerably delayed. Getting used to local practice patterns was likewise challenging, and it took a lot of patience, not to mention a lot of help from friends and co-workers before I finally hit my stride. It also helped that I was filling a niche that was beginning to become a significant   health care problem - a burgeoning HIV epidemic, with very few local physicians having the training or willing to take care of these patients, more so very little research was going on.

When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
I was a YPL in 2013. I heard about the program and was nominated by a member of the Philippine National Academy for Science and Technology, Dr. Carmencita Padilla, now chancellor of our university.

What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
I learned strong leadership skills that have helped me as I have taken on more and more administrative responsibilities. I have learned to lead by example, to nurture your staff and listen to their input, and to be decisive especially in dealing with important matters. I also came away with a strong network of like-minded colleagues who are more than willing to share their own expertise, and who commiserate with the challenges we have faced and will face.

How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
As the new director of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, the YPL program has helped me anticipate the challenges of leading an institute, and to avoid common pitfalls that can lead to significant work disruption. It has helped me to systematically analyze and deal with new situations that arise on a daily basis, and to better learn from resolving these issues. As I build on these experiences, I find that I am becoming a more confident leader who is able to inspire the same confidence in my staff and colleagues, resulting in a stronger institution and increased productivity and innovation.

What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
Aside from becoming director of a national institute, I have been recently  elected a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, one of only a handful of IDSA fellows in the Philippines and the youngest one. I have continued to be productive in research, with over 20 newinternational abstracts, book chapters and research publications since becoming a YPL in 2013. I have also organized two international conferences for infectious diseases and medicine, and  I have maintained a strong media presence in support of my HIV advocacy.

 
 
DR. KOPANO MATLWA MABASO 
MBChB (UCT), MSc (Oxon)
DPhil (Phd) Candidate
Oxford University, Nuffield Department of Population Health
IAMP YPL 2014
(S. Africa)

(Click on the photo to link to YPL Directory page)
How did you get interested in a medical career?
My sister was quite sickly when we grew up and so we spent quite a lot of time in hospitals. As a 7 year old I was completely fascinated by the work the doctors were doing and how they single handedly could save a life! Growing up in South Africa in the late 80s and early 90s there was not a shortage of pain and suffering to see. All though we were hopeful about the future and our new found democracy, there remained deep and unrelenting inequalities that meant that for the majority of South Africans life was still extremely challenging. I wanted to do something about this, and thought through medicine I could contribute to the healing our country needed.
 
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced along your career path that are specific to your country?
I don’t think I could have anticipated, as a young medical student, just how broken our health system was. I struggled with this as a young health doctor. I could never reconcile how our people continued to be terrorized by preventable and treatable conditions when so much of our GDP was being dedicated to health. I quickly grew impatient with working at the bedside, and decided to pursue a career in public health so I could get to the roots of the problems we were seeing in the wards.
 
When were you a YPL and how did you hear about the programme ?
In 2014 I was nominated by a mentor of mine and great hero of the South African health system, Professor Bongani Mayosi
 
What did you learn from the YPL programme ?
It was an incredible few days in Berlin, sharing the challenges we experience in our work as well as learning how others have navigated through various hurdles and made great impact and great change in their communities. I made great friends, some of whom I am still in contact with today and call on for advise from time to time.
 
How are you implementing what your learned and how has it made a difference to your professional life ?
As a mother and a professional woman, I decided while I was at the YPL training that I needed to identify women in my field who had worked in the space and had done so while raising children. Soon after YPL I identified 3 mentors who have been incredible sources of wisdom for me in more ways than I can list in this short blog.
 
What developments in your career since the programme would you like to share with us and with other YPL ?
I have been fortunate to have been selected as a Desmond Tutu Fellow (http://www.alinstitute.org/fellow-search/about-the-fellows/) and an Aspen New Voice in Global Health (http://aspennewvoices.org/) since my time at YPL. Its been an incredible year and I thank the YPL team for a wonderfully energizing experience.