Case study

Masters student — Dr Cassandra Bolanle Akinde

Dr Cassandra Bolanle Akinde graduated from the University of Lagos with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree before deciding to build her knowledge with further study

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

My topmost aspiration as a global health advocate is to continually develop professionally and academically in order to create sustainable and innovative solutions to improve health outcomes worldwide. Getting a postgraduate degree is a step I needed to take in building my capacity in terms of skills, knowledge and technical expertise.

What postgraduate course are you studying and where?

I am doing the MSc in Tropical Medicine & International Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

As a medical doctor, I wanted to do a course to build up my knowledge and practical research skills to successfully practice medicine in low- and middle-income countries. I chose LSHTM because it is one of the globally recognised universities in public health and has a long history of research-based evidence for tropical medicine and global health, starting from basic principles all the way through evaluating health innovations at every stage. LSHTM has a plethora of resources and a large network of seasoned global experts, who I have easy access to for mentorship.

What experience have you gained since your first degree?

I have been involved in volunteering for a local non-government organisation called The Neo Child Initiative for the past four years. I am currently the team lead and was involved in developing initiatives to improve access and equity to health care across marginalised populations and children living in underserved communities in Nigeria.

I also did my medical internship at Lagos University Teaching Hospital and served as a medical officer for Lagos State Health Service Commission, Nigeria.

How are you funding your postgraduate study?

I was incredibly fortunate to win a Chevening Scholarship funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

What is the course teaching you that your first degree did not?

It has enhanced my evidence-based decision making in tropical medicine and boosted my clinical research skills.

Tell us about the course…

My course focuses on developing the careers of doctors whose interest is the practice of medicine in tropical and low- and middle-income countries. It involves developing skills in diagnostic parasitology, basic epidemiological principles, understanding how to critically appraise data, synthesizing evidence and application in the practice of evidenced-based tropical medicine and disease control. I am working on a dissertation on a systematic review of scabies outbreaks in schools across Sub-Saharan Africa.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of further study?

The main advantage is career progression and the disadvantage is that it requires greater commitment and cost.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I would love to get an internship with World Health Organisation Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) division and work subsequently with the Nigerian Centre For Disease Control and Ministry of Health.

What areas of work could you go into?

Infectious diseases control and prevention, humanitarian crisis work and outbreak and disaster preparedness and response.

What tips would you give to others choosing a Masters degree?

I would advise you to identify your interest in pursuing further studies, map out a career plan, seek out mentors and practice time management skills.

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