STEP Story: Geny Augustine

4th Year Medical Student, St. Maarten School of Medicine
Kisumu, July-August 2016

Geny AugustineI had no idea what to expect upon my arrival to Kisumu, as this was my first time in Kenya. I was warmly greeted by Catherine, the STEP coordinator and Joelle, another fellow participant and I knew in that moment that everything would be fine. Both were incredibly positive and eager for me to start my journey!

The next day I had an orientation of the Lumumba site, and was greeted by numerous staff members. All were incredibly warm and welcoming, and made me feel at home. Over the course of the first week, I had the opportunity to shadow the various clinical departments, to better understand the sequence of each patient encounter. I thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with the staff, and to see the array of patients passing through the clinic during the course of the day.

I was soon introduced to my mentor, and we started the discussion of an execution plan for my project. Over the course of 2 months, I had the opportunity to explore the prevalence of short and long term contraceptive methods amongst known HIV positive women of reproductive age. This opportunity was exciting as I am incredibly passionate about women’s health. It was fascinating to see the variations in comparison to North America. What was most intriguing were the cultural implications of contraception usage and how it reflected on prevalence and the type of method that was used by each individual. My most rewarding experience was the opportunity to conduct focus group discussions with patients of differing demographical circumstances in order to pinpoint the perception that contraception left on patients. I also had the opportunity to talk with clinicians involved with family planning, and receive their input on current counseling protocol and possible suggestions for better contraception uptake amongst patients as a whole.

I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of such an amazing organization and the mission of providing care to those that need it most. I’d like to thank all the staff of Lumumba clinic, my mentor as well as the coordinators of the STEP program for this extraordinary opportunity.  My experience has only motivated me to continue to seek out opportunities to contribute to medicine in such a way and to make an impact on the health of each and every one of my future patients.