Alumni Highlight: Salomon Compaore, MD, MPH
Hometown: Niaogho, Burkina Faso
Current career position: After working for a year with the Nebraska DHHS as a Project Coordinator for the Nebraska Immunization Information System (NESIIS) and as an Epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada Health District, I currently fill a managerial position with the Center Region Health Directorate in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I head the Office of Disease Control and the Protection of Specific Groups. In collaboration with local and international partners such as Pathfinder, CDC, and Jhpiego, I provide technical assistance to five health districts, assisting with the implementation of health programs within their jurisdictions.
The fun part of about this job has been the opportunity to deal with public health and leadership in a developing country with limited resources. Managing about one dozen staff, in five districts, is a challenging and gratifying task. I deal with aspects of disease surveillance and statistics; program planning, monitoring, and evaluation; vaccine management, supporting the private sector and protection of specific and vulnerable groups. The most surprising thing is that not one day or week goes as planned, like when as a student every class would have an assignment and quiz on the same day.
The lack of resources means that there is a myriad of partners needed to intervene in the health sector. Most activities that are implemented end up being different from the initial plan, given that every partner has their agenda. I started my job during an outbreak of dengue fever as a member of the regional and the national response team. I was quite surprised to find that I could work even harder than I did in the U.S. My work would start at 7 am and end at 8 pm, weekends included.
The most valued aspect of my MPH program: I loved every second at the CoPH. It was a great learning environment with very knowledgeable professors and leaders who have a “global mindset”. The staff was very supportive in preparing me for my job search. I most valued the CEESP fellowship that provided a bridge between the theoretical knowledge gained in class and the application in the field.
Advice for current students: Aim for A in every class but have fun and make connections with peers. Start preparing your capstone project early during the program by determining your area of interest and getting knowledgeable in that area. Start your job search on day 1. Use career services for advice on how to make yourself marketable on your resume and social media. Get involved in student organizations and activities to develop leadership and gain visibility. Catch every volunteering and fellowship and scholarship opportunity you can. Cultivate a good relationship with your mentor; they can be the channel to your first job, maybe before even graduating.