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Yashua Alkali Hamza is a medical practitioner and Head of the Paediatrics at Dr Hassan’s Clinic and Diagnostic Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, and a University of Liverpool online Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate.

“I chose to study online with the University of Liverpool for my MPH for the convenience of studying with a prestigious University without having to leave my family and my work for close to a year.”

What were the highlights and challenges you faced while studying?

I enjoyed most of all the quality of the teaching and the exchange of ideas with other students.

Highlights: The adrenalin rush at the beginning of each week when a new discussion topic is revealed, and having the privilege of learning from my student-colleagues as each question is discussed from different perspectives, backgrounds and contexts. I absolutely loved the back and forth with my colleagues.

Challenges: combining work and study, time management and internet challenges. I went through several internet modems some pretty expensive just to keep up with my colleagues and tutors!

How did you fit online study into your life?

It was tough but looking back, I enjoyed every minute. One has to be highly motivated and focused as distractions are everywhere. I am proud to say that I have never been late for the submission of any work throughout my study but it came at a great cost. I became a familiar sight with my laptop in many hotel lobbies near my area (hotels have the most reliable internet connection). Once I was locked in an internet café when the café closed but I wouldn’t leave until I had submitted my assignment because otherwise I would miss my deadline!

What are your tips for other students?

Always have a personal deadline a day ahead of the actual deadline, that way if anything goes wrong you can solve it on time.

What did it mean to you to graduate in person in Liverpool?

That meant everything to me. It made it real for me – meeting my colleagues, tutors and touring the University and having that handshake with the Vice-Chancellor. I really feel I belong and that I am a proud part of this great and glorious place.

How is the degree helping you in your life and career?

I have moved to a new town, changed jobs and broadened my practice to include a less technical approach. My clinical approach now includes understanding the wider context of the individual’s life and what his/her determinants of disease may be; I listen a lot more and probe very gently. This I learnt during my studies.

How are you able to apply what you have learned in your day-to-day work?

Time management: I was able to learn how to manage my time as a direct result of the programme; I learnt to prioritise better.

Concise writing: I used to be a very verbose writer but due to the requirements of the programme, I have learnt to write concisely.

Qualitative research: My dissertation has made me a better qualitative researcher, which is my passion. My approach is now more methodological. Since graduating, I have been involved with qualitative research to evaluate projects and due to the training I received, my work has been much better than before.

I would recommend the University of Liverpool because…

It made all the difference to me… It gave me a fresh perspective.

Research

For her MPH dissertation, Yashua conducted a qualitative study to explore community perceptions towards the health risks of the early marriage of female children in Kano metropolis, Northern Nigeria.

“Coming from an area with one of the highest maternal mortality ratio’s in the world, I have watched with growing concern as multiple layers of vertical programmes targeted at reducing maternal mortality have received at best mixed results. As a consultant paediatrician and a mother of three, I believe that an understanding of the dynamics of the decision making process of women in my area is crucial for the formulation of effective programmes and interventions,” said Yashua.

Since graduating, Yashua has been appointed country director (Nigeria) for a mentorship programme for young emerging leaders passionate about changing the maternal health situation in their four developing countries. “I am now putting to full use so much that I have learnt during my masters programme,” said Yashua.


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