Patience and perseverance in global health initiatives

Closing keynote speaker Prabhjot Singh discusses overcoming adversity and making an impact in global health.

Closing keynote speaker Prabhjot Singh discusses overcoming adversity and making an impact in global health.

Sitting and listening to the closing keynote speaker for the GlobeMed Summit on April 5, I started to reflect on the journey that had led up to that point. At the beginning of the year, I applied and interviewed for the position of Summit Content Co-Coordinator, a role that entailed developing themes and ideas for the conference and reaching out to find speakers to fill those spots. Throughout the year, I felt that I was working toward an eventual goal, yet along the way I was seeing no products of my efforts.

As college students, we are used to getting immediate feedback for the work we do. We turn in our papers, take exams, write reports, and within a matter of days we receive our grade, the product and manifestation of our endeavors. In contrast, work in global health often involves broad goals and long-term projects. The results are often not instantaneous but rather require adapting to changing climates and circumstances. As global health students, we want to affect change and see our hard work in action. Working on long-term projects and tackling large challenges puts our patience to the test.

Although we may be frustrated at times, I think there is an inherent benefit to this process. In the times of struggle and doubt and questioning, we begin to shape our own ideas of where our passions truly lie. The things that we care about most make us want to stick it out and work for those results. On the other hand, we may find that our skills and interests lie elsewhere, a valuable lesson in itself. When you do find something you care about, which I admittedly am still doing, you become someone who will wait, push on, and adapt to circumstances. You become someone who can truly affect change.

That last day of the Summit, as I was sitting in Leverone Auditorium, I was able to see my contributions come to life. The changes we had made in the experiences and trajectories of these delegates made the process worthwhile to me. The experience of helping plan the GlobeMed Summit parallels the work I hope to pursue in the future in global health. In this field, patience truly is a virtue and I would argue that persistence is as well.

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