Public Health Wet and Spicy


Araba Gyan

I am looking forward to what I will do in Grenada. I have had scenarios in my head of being on the field collecting data on my topic of interest, magically having the perfect data for analyzing, writing the most eloquent report on the issue, and patting myself on the back. But that reality is very far. 

Instead, what I have is creating questions, and consent/assent forms, developing interview guides, and managing my stress levels. This process before going to Grenada has been a combination of excitement and caution. I am excited to go to Grenada and work on this project, but I am also scared of the cautions I may have ignored or didn’t think about. Who preps you to talk about reproductive health and sex in Public Health? It is one of those speakable but unspeakable topics. Sexual and reproductive health matters very much. Services and skills are needed to develop care pathways to provide holistic care in reproductive health closer to home. In preparation for this experience, I have felt like a researcher - collaborating with St. George’s University (SGU) students. We have sat in 2+ hours of zoom calls to develop questionnaires, and I feel “WOW! This is what I may be doing in my career someday.”  At the same time, I feel, “when is this meeting ending? We’ve talked about whether asking “if they have sex” is a good question for far too long. Are we ever going to agree on the same thing? Why do we agree on the same thing immediately? Sounds fishy!” I have learned to be patient with everyone and work with changes as they come. 

Through this experience, I want to put my epidemiological skills to the test. This is the ultimatum test because it includes preparing materials for the research, collecting the data, analyzing, and writing a report. The bonus is that I am not doing it alone, so it feels authentic and aligned with the job description of a researcher in public health education or epidemiology. I want to learn my work ethic in a new environment. Grenada is beautiful – it is someone’s vacation destination. But I am there to work mostly. How will I stay focused on work while enjoying the country simultaneously? We will see! Lastly, I look forward to meeting the SGU students we have worked with for the past few weeks. 

I am nervous I might get attached to the project. The topic is interesting, although no one gives you a manual for sexual and reproductive health conversation. The people are great, and the country is beautiful. I need to remind myself that this work trip is a short one. I hope to get all the fun research experience as I explore Public Health wet and spicy. Well, excuse me while I figure out how to meet my instructor at the airport gate before 6 am.