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Avhatakali Edward Tshikhudo Avhatakali Edward Tshikhudo originally comes from South Africa but now lives in the UK where he works as a nurse. Trained in general and psychiatric nursing and also as a midwife, he is currently studying online towards a Master of Public Health (MPH) with the University of Liverpool.

Why did you choose to study online with the University of Liverpool?

I’m a family man, I work full time and I’ve got social responsibilities – I need time to do all that. Online education allows me to remain flexible in terms of when I study, I take my laptop everywhere I go and work when I get an opportunity, so it really enables me to make the most of the time I have.

What has been your experience of the online classroom so far?

The main advantage of this programme for me has been the opportunity to learn from so many different people. The virtual classroom has afforded me countless opportunities to interact, share with and draw on the wealth of knowledge from professionals from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

They were in all sorts of careers: nursing, medical, social services, allied medical professions, dental, environmental health, dietary care; etc.’ With such a range of people you are able to draw on each other’s knowledge and expertise. You learn from the best. You share views and you give your views as well.

How have your studies impacted your professional life?

My clinical and managerial knowledge and skills have improved significantly – so much so that even my line manager has said he has noticed a great change in thinking! He says that I am talking about my work differently and he’s right. Once you start this MPH programme, you will never be the same again. You will think – in a less confined way.

Whatever happens, you will tend to think more about the cause and the likely outcomes – not only one outcome, other possibilities as well. So you approach problems differently and make more informed decisions.

What are you researching for your University of Liverpool online MPH dissertation?

I am exploring mental health promotion in in-patient care settings.

Why did you choose this topic?

To investigate the feasibility, challenges and opportunities of implementing health promotion in the setting of mental health services, and to explore the views of health professionals and contemporary opinion on the approach of public health in settings designed to care.

How is the University supporting you in your research?

Having classmates to offer support, share frustrations with and learn from really fosters a sense of belonging and togetherness, so knowing that you are not alone makes a big difference. My Student Support Manager has also been fantastic; we have an open channel of communication and she is always very prompt in replying to me.

How do you plan to use your Masters once completed?

I intend to take that next step up to senior management where I will be able to make an impact on decision making. Ultimately I want to work towards creating and implementing programmes to support my overall goal of addressing current health needs in my local community.

You would recommend the University of Liverpool because...

The contemporary issues in nursing indicate that we need to be lifelong learners. I think the University of Liverpool has done a lot to broaden my horizons and give me the confidence and knowledge to pursue making a difference in my field.

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