The lady managing the booth was quick to give me information and reading material about the Fellowship. Whereas I was convinced about the information and really did want to sign up for the Fellowship, I was a little hesitant because of the fee. Nonetheless, the 20% discount for registering at the time of the offer was hard to resist, so I signed up.
By the time I returned to Uganda, the Fellowship journey had begun. A journey that initially seemed daunting because I thought I was obliged to listen to each and every webinar became enjoyable as I was later to learn that it was up to me to select what was of interest to me.
The Fellowship has directly impacted my work at the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (USAID ASSIST) Project. I started it at the same time that I was starting to address the quality of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) services in Uganda. This was a new area for my project, and I was not sure how I would go about it. The VMMC work had many standards which improvement/ health facility teams were supposed to meet, and it was not entirely clear to me how to measure progress. During my time on the Fellowship, I have learnt a lot about improvement work, such as measuring progress based on standards and supporting teams to meet and maintain standards. Through listening to various speakers on the many ISQua webinars, I gained the confidence to present my own first webinar, and now I would jump at the opportunity of presenting another.
Not only does the Fellowship offer the opportunity to interact with peers, it also creates a platform for getting in touch with gurus of quality improvement and patient safety. Such interaction has enabled me to get a wider perspective of patient safety from all corners of the world and to share my experiences. Most importantly, I have come to appreciate the importance of contextualizing improvement interventions and paying attention to people’s culture. Due to a constrained and overburdened work force, health workers tend to focus on treating ailments, leaving the patients and their caregivers with little or no opportunity to express their concerns and participate in decision making. As a result of the ISQua Fellowship webinars and case studies, I have become an advocate of patient-centered care as I have come to appreciate the importance of creating a conducive environment that allows patients and caregivers the opportunity to share their concerns and participate in making decisions about their care.
Looking back at the time when I first hesitated to sign up, I say THANK YOU ISQua for the 20% discount because it was the turning point. I encourage as many people as possible to take up the ISQua Fellowship because it offers not only a great forum for professional development, but also for self-discovery.