Last Updated: 13th August 2019

Making a difference in Sierra Leone

My name is Stephen Kidd, I am a first year STP clinical microbiology trainee based at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust in Basingstoke and have just completed a five week deployment to Sierra Leone between January and February 2015. The deployment made up part of my clinical virology rotation. This means, when I have training needs that cannot be met by my home Trust I highlight a Trust or establishment that can provide the relevant training and I arrange a visit. After agreement with my training officer, the department consultants and Health Education Wessex; this was made part of my general training and not my elective as it was seen as no different to other training and would provide me and my home Trust with invaluable experience. A number of virology, professional practice and world health competencies were highlighted as being covered whilst I was out there. The week’s training at Public Health England at Porton was completed with a Direct Observation of Practical Skills (DOPS) assessment for good measure!

Why Sierra Leone?

The choice of Sierra Leone was given to me by Public Health England (PHE). I just made myself available for deployment after that it was up to them to send me where the need was greatest. All costs of the deployment and training were covered by PHE and the International Medical Corps. I spoke to a number of old colleagues who had been out on earlier deployments and picked their brains on what to expect, what to take and what the experience was like. The training we had also presented us with information we needed and this combined with the health and resilience screening gave us more than enough information to prepare ourselves well. Prior to my departure, I had to put together a training plan and the blog to document my time out there. I had to liaise with the School, Health Education Wessex, human resources and occupational health to make sure all paperwork, honorary contracts and permissions were given and documented.

What I learned

This deployment has been priceless in terms of experience and learning outcomes. I was able to put into practice experience I had gained over the past eight years working at PHE and then used new skills I had learned in the few months I had been a clinical scientist trainee. I enjoyed all aspects of field work and being a team lead of a lab under immense pressure in very trying situations and surroundings. I made some really interesting and useful contacts out in Sierra Leone that will provide good support in my future training. In Sierra Leone I was fulfilling the role of a clinical scientist so being able to find my feet so quickly gave me immense satisfaction. This has since reinforced the confidence I have that this is the perfect role for me in the future. Read more about my time in Sierra Leone on my blog kiddothemicrobiologist.tumblr.com