Academia is filled with people doubting things they research and themselves. I too have found myself thinking I fall short. They call it impostor syndrome. You think you don’t belong here, when actually you have done pretty well for yourself. I also love to highlight the weaknesses in other people’s work, so much so that my supervisor called my review of the literature for my dissertation a rant. Then it makes sense that I focused on the weaknesses of the study on why adolescents fail to complete their Tuberculosis treatment.
I told my mentor at the DTHF I wanted to end my talk with a quote from another persons talk. This graduate student from Health Economics found an insightful statement from a healthcare provider who expressed his dismay that his patient – a young girl was not coming to the clinic for her treatment. As I recall, he believed the patient was perfectly capable of attending the clinic, yet was not doing so. In my view, this showed how important qualitative research was at understanding the reasons for which people fail to adhere to treatment regimens. And TB treatment is one of the most challenging regimes to follow. Now, what I was missing was that the PhD student did not offer an answer to why the patient was "defaulting", to use the words that the World Health Organization employs for patients who fail to finish their TB course. I on the other hand, have original data on the reasons for default, albeit imperfect data from clinics. For this, I must be proud and I have to bring out the message to the public health authorities.
Science and especially public health cannot be an endless quest for more research. Findings are important to policy makes and as public health researchers, they must be shared, rather than hiding behind the veneer of imperfect research that requires more funding/time.
One other thing I have become aware of. I am part of a number of networks, including the United World College network, the Princeton University alumni, the Canon Collins Trust alumni, the DAAD alumni and soon another alumni network, UCT. I wonder how these will coalesce.