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By ISQua Tuesday. Nov 25, 2014

My Fellowship, My Mentor: The story of Ghanaian Fellow

of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital-Ghana’s premiere epicenter of healthcare delivery and training to consider an appointment as a Quality Improvement (QI) manager, little did I know my destination and what the rudiments of the job even entailed.

As a young Public Health field resident at the time, my major interest and preoccupation was just to get my residency program complete and take on an appointment as an Organization Development Consultant and a Facilitator of Organization Development programs by the Organization Capacity Improvement Consultant (OCIC) International, whose CEO, Noble Kumawu, who happened to be a mentor and coach.

The choice of a career in Quality Improvement (QI) other than an Organization Development and a Facilitator was a very challenging one. It was even scarier especially when the position of the Quality improvement (QI) manager was not on the pay roll of the health sector in Ghana. Career paths and progression was also virtually non-existent. The discussion about salaries and remuneration was even more discouraging and disheartening!

Surprising enough, I opted for the unknown! I chose Quality Improvement (QI) over being an Organizational Development Consultant & a Facilitator of an international organization with offices in the United Kingdom, Ethiopia and Ghana.

The journey to this career path over the last 3 years has been very mixed. Incidentally, I have had only one semester course in “Healthcare Quality Assurance” during my MPH program. There is no institution in Ghana that offers any program in Healthcare Quality Improvement & Patient Safety. Nonetheless, I was expected to deliver in my new role and never wanted to disappoint myself nor my boss, Dr. Philip K. Amoo, who introduced and recommended me for the position.

I embarked on a very aggressive search for knowledge in the area of healthcare quality and patient safety especially when there was no formal institution to run to in Ghana. My search took me to a number of institutions globally where I connected via the power of technology. I had the opportunity to do a number of certificate courses online to help me understand and appreciate what the issues in Quality Improvement and Patient Safety was concerned.

I was not satisfied. I needed something bigger because I work in a teaching hospital where evidence is very key for any improvement journey. I however discovered how I could apply my knowledge in Organizational Development (OD) to Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.  

My further search one nice afternoon took me straight to the ISQua website where I discovered I could have a Fellowship in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety. Wow! My joy was inexplicable and this commenced a whole journey of another discovery process for me. The program was very life changing. I found a program that answered my knowledge deficits in terms of healthcare quality and patient safety. It gave me the capacity to lead the various improvement projects in my facility including surveys in adverse events, time & motion, patient safety culture assessment etc. I had opportunities to lead and organize programs for healthcare workers both within and outside my facility in healthcare quality and patient safety in Ghana.

My competition with Emmanuel, from Nigeria, somebody I discovered in Rio to be a friend and brother with respect to the ISQua Emerging Leadership Program is equally worth mentioning. Congratulations once again bro, and looking forward to working with you to transform and improve healthcare quality and patient safety in our part of the world through the opportunities and platform that ISQua offers.

The icing on the cake for me as far as the Fellowship Program was concerned was the mentorship. This bit was an entirely new experience. Till date, I believe I got the best mentor in the person of Peter Carter, the CEO of ISQua. Mentorship for me, is not something that is deliberately done in my part of the world especially as part of academic programs. The meetings with Peter, were the game changer for me. Peter presented very challenging tasks and reading assignments, provided a number of opportunities to expand my networks especially with respect to quality improvement and patient safety experts in other parts of the world, challenged me to host a webinar (on quality improvement initiatives & strategies in a lower middle income country) which is available on the ISQua website, blogged and above all worked tirelessly to make my 3rd ISQua Conference a reality. My mentor encouraged me to submit articles to journals and to publish! What else can a mentee ask for from a mentor!

One interesting awareness my mentor provided was the dynamics in healthcare leadership and organizational politics. Two important books my mentor made me read which I will further recommend to you all fellows: “Microsmographia Academia" by FM Cornford and the “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun" by Wes Roberts. For me, I have no reservation at all in making a boastful and proud declaration that, my mentor is the best of them of all! One request I make from the educational team of ISQua is that, I want my mentorship relationship with Peter to be forever! I remember one statement my mentor (Peter) made during our initial meetings was, “Elom, ISQua will provide you the opportunities and I hope you take advantage of it.”

I say to you Peter that, I have enjoyed every bit of my Fellowship journey and especially my mentorship relationship with you. You have given me a global stage and I hope that, I don’t disappoint you. I see my Fellowship journey as a huge responsibility to continue to lit the candle of Ghana and together with Emmanuel and all other Fellowship participants on the program from Africa to ensure an improvement in healthcare quality and patient safety in our part of the world.

I salute you Peter! You are indeed the best mentor of the Fellowship program! I also salute all those who have made my journey this far possible especially to my boss and head, Dr. Philip K. Amoo for introducing me to Healthcare Quality Improvement (QI). I hope I have not let you down!


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