Reflections on PHTT: Past Participant Interview #1

With the second round of application for PHTT 2019 now live, the Core Team got in touch with some participants from last year’s conference for them to share their experiences and advice for this year’s participants. 

PHTT(P) : Please briefly introduce yourself.    

Nejat (N): My name is Nejat Beshir and I am a junior from Ethiopia pursuing Social Research and Public Policy (SRPP) as a major with a psychology minor at New York University Abu Dhabi. I am interested in maternal health and would like to conduct research in this field in the future. 

P: What was the public health issue of the conference where you participated, and how did your team work to tackle this public health issue?

N: I participated in the Public Health Think Tank conference held in 2018. The public health issue was cardiovascular diseases in the UAE and our team was given the task of devising an- affordable, locally applicable and innovative- intervention that would contribute to the amelioration of cardiovascular health in the UAE. After my team and I worked together through the two-day time frame, we came up with an intervention that involved a pilot study which assesses the cardiovascular health of workers in labor camps in the UAE. The pilot study was then followed by our intervention which took the form of a campaign- supported by different stakeholders- that would provide awareness, medical support and programs to encourage workers to follow upon their own cardiovascular health.

P: Why did you decide to participate in PHTT 2018? What was that experience like? 

N: I decided to participate in PHTT because programs like this directly address major public health issues that play vital roles in the functions of a given society. PHTT also aligned with my interest in paying specific attention to a given public health issue and facilitated a platform on which solutions can be suggested, discussed, and validated. Moreover, I wanted to use the opportunity to get exposure to a very important public health issue that affects most of the world’s population- Cardiovascular diseases. 

Through my two-day experience of devising an intervention with fellow delegates from my university and other universities, I learned a lot about the topic and acquired the skill sets required to design an intervention. My team was composed of people from different academic backgrounds who came from different countries and had various insights on the topic based on their experience. The first day was mainly composed of learning from professionals in the fields and exploring the basics of designing an intervention as well as getting to know each other. As the first day was coming to an end, we were brainstorming and discussing several ideas as to how we should design our intervention. We spent time researching and doing literature reviewS on the type of intervention we planned to design and by the end of the first day we came up with an applicable solution that our advisor helped us compose.

The second day of the conference started with a talk on how to prepare an appealing presentation followed by a session dedicated for teams to work individually. The second day was more challenging as we had to finalize our intervention and prepare a presentation that would letter be presented in front of a panel of judges. It was also the day our team worked the hardest starting from doing more research, to writing our proposal and practicing our presentation. The conference not only taught me more about cardiovascular diseases but also about working in a team, supporting each other and listening to understand. It also helped me hone my research and presentation skills in addition to giving me a hands-on experience towards proposing solutions and working with some of the most influential people in the field.

P: What piece of advice would you give to the 2019 participants?

N: I would advise 2019 participants to take the initiative to confidently share what they know and think out of the box while simultaneously learning from each member of their team because everybody has something special and very useful to offer. Having said that, enjoy your time and make the best out of these two days!