Dickey Center Internship Teams Up With YALI Fellow

Kingsley

Kingsley Osei-Karikari '19 (center in green) worked in Ghana with a former YALI fellow on developing an Electronic Medical Records system.

During Fall 2017, Kinglsey Osei-Karikari ’19 did an internship at the Brain Clinic in Ghana. With the initial goal of studying the social perceptions on mental illnesses, Kingsley expanded his project to focus on putting an efficient and permanent Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system in place that would help not just the Brain Clinic but also other health institution across Ghana.  

by Kinglsey Osei-Karikari ’19

My time in Ghana was revealing, rewarding, and challenging: revealing because I was on a personal journey of self-discovery and awareness; rewarding because I appreciated both the successes I enjoyed and the failures I encountered as invaluable experiences in my professional development; challenging because I had to adapt my initial research ideas from a more backward-looking undertaking to a more forward-looking initiative.

I envisioned this research in Ghana to serve a dual purpose. As a Ghanaian who has spent the past six years in America, I hoped that spending time in Ghana would help me understand the source of the beliefs I hold, the culture I embrace and the essence of the values I have grown up with despite living in a foreign country. I also hoped to aid my professional development by combining my passion for mental health awareness and treatment with my desire to practice medicine in a developing country like Ghana. After three months in Ghana, I am thankful to Dickey Center and my host organization, The Brain Clinic, for helping me achieve both goals.

My initial research idea was to conduct a statistical analysis at The Brain clinic and other mental health centers in Ghana. However, upon arriving in Ghana, my host doctor, Dr. Yao Mfodwo (chief psychiatrist at the Brain Clinic), and I deliberated and determined that while it will be worth informing the world about the state of mental health in Ghana in the past decade, it is hard to envision the practical effects such research would have on Ghana’s mental healthcare system. With other factors taken into consideration, it became clear that the best way to maximize the impact of my research would be to focus on building an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.

With my attention now turned from my earlier “electronic record-keeping” idea to the more well-established and practical usage of EMR, I set out to find the best possible way to implement and maintain an EMR system in not just The Brain clinic, but across Ghana’s mental health institutions. The enormity and longevity of the innovation to which I had now committed myself demanded that I break up my approach in phases. My naïve idea had morphed into a concrete possible solution to the country’s lack of an efficient record keeping in mental health. I embraced this change because the Dickey Center had encouraged us to be open to possible adaptation of initial ideas.

I connected with Eyram Tawia, a YALI fellow who is based in Ghana, to learn coding and provide the team with another option to design our own platform from scratch, if need be. Moreover, the work I have done so far in building a functioning team and the extensive communications and collaborations I have had with Dr. Mfodwo has prompted him to nominate the group for the African Innovation Award. I am currently applying for this award, with the hope that our team wins. I set out to build a simple platform for one clinic, but here I find myself, leading a team of peers to build a platform to benefit all of Ghana’s mental health fields.

On a personal level, I have come to embrace the person I am better than I did before I went to Ghana. Growing up in the Bronx had left me with so much conflict about who I was. Often, I was torn between two different worlds. But I have gained heightened awareness of who I am, and who I want to be after I re-immersed myself in the culture that has shaped my most fundamental values, ideologies and principles. This personal rediscovery makes my experiences in Ghana not only a successful one, but a fulfilling one. My time in Ghana has taught me that there is a difference between success and fulfillment, and I am thankful to have experienced both.

 

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