Postgraduate internship leads to role at hospital

For one Master of Public Health student, an internship provided valuable learning opportunities and also led to a full-time role at Macquarie University Hospital.

Oluwatosin 'Tosin' Akinya-Ojo

Student internship — education story

Oluwatosin (Tosin) Akinya-Ojo came to Macquarie University to study for a Master of Public Health. Her long-term goal is to return to her home country of Nigeria and work to improve health care systems.

Initially, she found the course challenging, because it was much more fast-paced and technology-focused than she was used to. “Back in my university in Nigeria, we mostly have face-to-face classes,” she says. “You have two assignments and you submit them on paper and you have a couple of exams. You didn’t use the computer as much.”

At Macquarie, she struggled with keeping the pace but says her lecturers were very patient until she got up to speed. Most of her fellow students were international and in the same situation so they could at least share their difficulties.

The highlight of her two-year degree was a voluntary internship placement at Macquarie University Hospital in the Patients Safety and Quality Department. “I really wanted to get real-life experience before graduating,” she says.

Tosin’s role was to check policies against best practice guidelines, state legislation and National Safety and Quality Health Service standards. It gave her the opportunity to put what she’d learned in the classroom into practice. “We’d done this unit called Health Systems, looking at how health systems operate, and now I was actually doing this,” she says.

A few months later – a month before she graduated – she asked her internship supervisor for a reference. Instead, he offered her a job, and she’s now working as a policy and procedure administrator at the hospital.

Her particular interest is in patients’ safety. Her role includes reviewing and revamping the database of policies on the hospital website. “I’m making it more user-friendly, more up-to-date and better in any way I can,” she says.

Eventually, Tosin plans to return to Nigeria where she can influence health policy.