In many ways, I feel as though I have already got what I came here for. I have a few more weeks to go, and of course I will still be learning quite a lot over these weeks, but I know there is a limit to how much I can learn and grow in this institution and I know that I want to gain other experiences to broaden my specific interests in international public health and help me be a more effective public health practitioner one day down the road. What I feel like I have gotten thus far is a good enough taste of the institution in learning what it does for international public health, but also the frustrations and limitations involved in this field. In brief, some of these frustrations and limitations go back to the administrative work and inherently political environment of being at an UN agency. However, within these same qualities of the work at WHO, there is also a lot of opportunity and beauty in the way the organization can bring political leaders and topic experts to bridge understandings and establish collaborations. With that said, WHO is not a good place for curious and ambitious young professionals. For the very reason that the work here seems removed from the people that it seeks to benefit, which is likely a result of my limited experience as an individual on the ground, the best thing a younger student and professional can do for themselves and their contributions to public health is to get more practical experience. A combination of a breadth of practical and theoretical experience is what many seasoned professionals bring to the table in their senior positions at WHO. It is from these unique, diverse, and complex skillsets and experiences, from which they can draw expertise and put it into public health practice.
I am looking forward to doing whatever work that is out there that allows me to experience and learn more in being an individual that is better equipped with the knowledge, experiences, and skills to tackle public health issues. If this role means involving collaborating or working with WHO to any degree, great. But if not, it’s also perfectly fine, as public health and improving the health of populations can also look very differently. The WHO does great work, but it’s similar to many other organization in many ways and in some it’s quite different. Everyone is doing good work in public health, and it’s crucial to recognize how everything fits into the larger picture of improving health for all. In doing this, helps provide a sense of enthusiasm and optimism that is important in this field that seems to have so many issues. And as challenging and plentiful as the issues seem to be, it’s important to commend and share the best practices and small successes along the way.