As part of her coursework, Erika completed an international field placement with the National Institute of Health in Timor-Leste. She recalls the satisfaction she felt upon returning home from nine weeks abroad, knowing that her work would be used to develop sustainable health programs for Timorese communities.
Erika said she went into the placement with some hesitations about how she would be able to contribute to health outcomes within a relatively short timeframe and without knowing the local language, Tetum - but she was pleasantly surprised.
She said, "I was putting all of the skills I had learned in my program into practice. I was respected and treated as a professional, and the positive feedback that I received upon the submission and presentation of my final report after my placement was a definitive moment."
She recalls the satisfying moment she received an email informing her that her report was going to be disseminated among the National Institute of Health network and their wider health partners. "It was great to know that my findings would not be abandoned on a shelf. They would be used in a series of discussions and meetings to influence program operations and national policies", said Erika.
Months later, Erika was notified again that the presentation that she had developed and presented during her placement was going to be used at an annual showcase with national leaders, trainers, and health workers in attendance.
She said it was a priviledge to be a catalyst for change during her time with the National Institute of Health. "I learned so much from the Timorese; of their passion, dedication, and resiliency. The highlight of this placement was contributing to something sustainable; work that my colleagues can continue to develop to serve vulnerable populations and change the health outcomes of future generations."