Twenty health specialists have completed a four-day mentorship program organized by the College of Health Sciences, University of Liberia (UL) as part of a multi-year joint project funded by PEER and BRIDGE-U: Applying Research for a Healthy Liberia.
Closing program for the second cohort of the mentorship program was held on Friday, April 29, 2022, in Congo Town on UL’s Medical School campus. The participants received certificates for their successful completion of the exercise.
On July 20, 2021, USAID announced a US$15 million project aimed at establishing a public-private-academic hub for research utilization in the Liberian health sector. The funds are part of USAID’s BRIDGE-U partnership project.
BRIDGE-U: Applying Research for a Healthy Liberia, is expected to impact long-term research and training collaboration throughout Liberia’s health sector and institutionalize income-generating activities and administrative systems. The project stretches beyond hosting faculty development training based on the team’s existing research but also addresses Liberia’s undeniable need for mentoring students in science and research.
Collectively, these activities are anchored at ULCHS and will ultimately result in increased capacity across Liberia’s health sector in evidence-based health sciences teaching and patient care, utilization of research for health policymaking, innovative commercial applications of health research findings, and sustainable financing for health research and utilization programs in Liberia.
Giving an overview of the program, Dr. Odell W. Kumeh, Coordinator of Teaching and Learning, the College of Health Sciences, University of Liberia, thanked Vanderbilt University for having recognized the gaps identified and finding funding through the PEER program which has facilitated the graduation of the second cohort of health specialists.
She said the participants of the second cohort are specialists who have graduated from the A.M. Dogliotti Medical School, University of Liberia and other specialist training programs.
Dr. Kumeh noted that it was deemed necessary to institutionalize the mentoring program at the College of Health Sciences, University of Liberia since these specialists who were mentored have already been carrying out mentorship programs at the various institutions.
“We decided to bring them in and give them formal training. So they were actually 20 in number that came for the second cohort and we are highly grateful for that,” said Dr. Kumeh.
She said the second cohort was a four-day training, adding that those that took part were all from public health institutions.
She said their aim is to institutionalize mentoring, challenging the participants to go back to their various institutions and departments and serve as the flag bearers and to mentor others.
Vanderbilt University Principal Investigator Marie Martin, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Associate Director for Education and Training at VIGH, said she was so inspired by each of the mentees.
She commended them for their commitment to mentorship, their true dedication and for attending the mentorship program every day throughout the second cohort.
Prof. Martin noted that none of these projects would be possible without genuine partnership, thanking the participants on behalf of Vanderbilt, USAID and the University of Liberia.
She urged the Doctors to go and mentor and change the trajectory for so many learners.
Dr. Troy Moon, one of the facilitators, said he was humbled and inspired by the mentees, saying the energy that they brought to the training is what continues to make the program enjoyable.
“One of the goals of this program was to individually share ideas with you all, but also to institutionalize the culture of mentorship,” said Dr. Moon.
Dr. Cecelia Nuta, speaking on behalf of the participants, thanked the organizers of the mentorship program – the College of Health Sciences of the University of Liberia, saying it has been an experience for everyone.
“Even though we’ve been working with other people as “mentors,” … this has improved our own mental capacity and our vision as to what to expect to see in the future,” she said.
Addressing her fellow participants, Dr. Nuta said “this is a challenge for us; it is for us to challenge the College of Health Sciences to continue this process.”
“We should start [at] a point where we begin to mentor students from elementary up to junior high, senior high, up to college level and then we would field this into the learning society of Liberia.’
Dr. Philip Ireland, one of the mentees, described the mentorship program as very interesting and very rewarding, explaining that it is something that is much – needed in the health sector.
The University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS) runs a Center for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation (CTLI) in Liberia through the project, while the Office of Fiduciary Services (OFS) manages the funding.
The University of Liberia College of Health Sciences has built in grant management capacities as part of its Office of Fiduciary Services and Office of Sponsored Research Services. Both offices are capacitated to independently obtain and manage their own extramural funding which is critical for ULCHS to advance an institutionally-directed, self-reliant research agenda, robust financial management systems as well as enable ULCHS to manage the local revenue sources established.
OFS has adopted a two-pronged approach: to expand financial systems to allow the ULCHS Office of Fiduciary Services to fully and independently manage awards as a prime recipient institution and to strengthen the ULCHS Office of Sponsored Research Services such that it can support Liberian investigators to be competitive in procuring grant funding.