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BSMS > About BSMS > Alumni > Alumni in focus Tamara-Mulenga

Alumni in Focus - Tamara Mulenga

Tamara Mulenga (Global Health 2017)

Tamara Mulenga outside Medical Teaching Building

Tamara started her BM BS and took a break after her third year to do an MSc in Global Health. She has recently published her first paper, a qualitative study to help us better understand the high number of home births in peri-urban areas of Zambia.

Tamara tells us about her experience working abroad and what brought her to study medicine in Brighton. 

You did the global health MSc in 2016-17 - tell us about your experience on this course?

My experience was very positive. I really enjoyed coming away from the clinical side and looking at a wider perspective on why certain things happen such as social determinants and looking at the role of geo politics on how we access health locally. I think this gave me a really good grounding for the position I got on the fellowship to work in Zambia. The MSc also gave me the chance to work with people who weren’t from a medical background – some had a background in social sciences and psychology, and I really benefitted from working with others who had different perspectives.

I took a break at the end of the year 3 to apply for the MSc and intercalated. I looked at other courses I could intercalate on but the Global Health MSc seemed like the best course that would give me what I wanted to gain. During the MSc I found out about the Global Health Corps fellowship and asked for another year off from the undergraduate course to get in, so I am now back doing the last year before I qualify.


What are you doing now?

I am trying to keep in touch with my research work and I have just done my Individual Research Project. I did some work with Dr Max Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Primary Care and Public Health, which looked at the local perspectives on using the menstrual cup in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, which I am trying to put forward for publication. After that I hope to go into Public Health.

How did it feel to have your first paper published?

It felt very surreal. We worked with three health centres, which were all based in peri-urban areas of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. But no one understood why there was a high number of home births, especially as some of these home births took place less than 5km away from the medical centres, there were transport links and the maternity services were free. So, my study looked at this in greater depth, with the end goal of trying to see what we could suggest or how the facilities could promote their services to encourage more people to come through. I got an email on a Saturday afternoon which I assumed would be just another email, but it informed me that the paper had been accepted which was a fantastic feeling. The process of planning it, writing it, correcting it and submitting it had felt like birthing a child in a way! It was a very satisfying and humbling experience.

What brought you to study in Brighton? 

When I first came to BSMS I liked how friendly everyone was. I was the only person at my school to apply that year so I didn't know anyone in Brighton. I had attended a summer chemistry camp at the University of Sussex when I was in year 10 which gave me a small glimpse into life in Brighton. I liked the atmosphere, the city and the feeling of being on campus. I like the relaxed environment that accepts everyone.

What is the skill that you would most like to have?

I feel like researchers can sometimes go in to something with a perception or a conclusion already in mind, but I would like people to be able to tell me their stories. I would like to do away with assumptions and be able to allow people a voice through my research.       


What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Do work that you enjoy and are interested in and do not be afraid to bring your own experiences or background into your work. For me, being a British Zambian allows me to bring a unique element into my work as I am from the African diaspora. So being authentic in the work you do.

 pen, encouraging and authentic.


Describe BSMS in 3 words

Open, encouraging and authentic.