(The Humanitarian Social Network)
1. Build your empathy skills
Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an essential cross-cultural skill and important for health work. Understanding why people make the choices they do is key to changing behavior, which is the core of improving health. It might be a patient, a family member, a doctor of a policymaker, but you need to see where they’re coming from to talk to them.
2. Get a degree that’s not in health
There are plenty of jobs in global health that don’t relate directly to providing medical care. Computer programmers and IT specialists are important in implementing electronic medical record systems. Logisticians develop and improve pharmaceutical supply chains. Economists help improve health financing. In a world full of clinicians who want to get involved with global health, your accounting degree can stand out in a good way.
3. Learn to write well
Every global health job can be done better if you write well. Whether it’s a policy brief, a journal article, or an internal case study, you need to be able to communicate in writing.
4. Take up a hands-on hobby
International work is going to involve a lot of time spent in environments with sporadic access to electricity or entertainments like television and internet. If you have a hobby like knitting, drawing, or even whittling, it will make a major different to your mental health. It’s also a nice way to bond with people across a language barrier.
5. Read a lot of fiction
Reading lots of fiction supports two things on this list. First, it helps develop your empathy by giving you access to the first-person perspectives of other people. Second, it improves your writing by tuning your ear to what good writing sounds like. And as an added bonus, it will give your conversational topics with people you meet; I’ve run into so many people who are incredibly well-read, even if English is their second language. The more books I consume, the better I can keep up.