I’m Balansama Janneh, physiotherapist from Sierra Leone, West Africa. I am a trained nurse, and state enrolled community health nurse (SECHN). I recently completed a First Class Degree in Physiotherapy (PT) in India and am currently working with Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, SL.
What were some of your motivations in pursuing a career in physiotherapy?
Some of my motivations in pursuing a career in PT include an inadequate number of trained and qualified personnel in Sierra Leone. Within the country there is a huge demand for PT services, especially considering it is a post war country with a lot of trauma. I also became interested in PT when I was working as a nurse at Holy Spirit Hospital when a visiting team of plastic, reconstructive, and orthopaedic surgical teams came to the hospital to provide surgical services. Moreover, Mrs Catherine Smith is my greatest mentor and motivated me to change my career path from nursing to PT because of the high requirement of PT services within the country.
Describe your experience studying in India. What challenges did you face?
My initial challenges studying in India included food, culture and language barriers. But I adjusted myself to fit into the system, which I became very comfortable with throughout my studies.
Professionally, I was the only international student in my class, which made it challenging to communicate with patients during clinical postings. I tried my best to learn and speak the local language (Tamil).
Personally, the COVID-19 pandemic was very challenging in India, leading to a series of lockdowns, and online classes, as well as missing my family.
I can imagine studying in a foreign country, while also being away from your support systems would have been extremely difficult. Did anything aid in your resiliency during this time? How did Resurge Africa support you both professionally and personally?
Yes, being away from family and friends to study in a foreign country was difficult. The challenges are enormous. But I am very grateful to Resurge Africa and partners as I was fully sponsored throughout the course duration of 4 years, and the 6 month internship period in India.
Following the completion of First-Class Honours BSc in Physiotherapy, what goals do you have upon returning to Sierra Leone with this knowledge and training?
My goals upon returning to Sierra Leone are as follows:
- Creating a big difference in managing physiotherapy cases
- Sharing knowledge and experience with my colleagues and the world at large
- To become involved in training the future of physiotherapy services in Sierra Leone
- Delivering quality patient care and rehabilitation
“I am delighted to return to Sierra Leone and share my services as a trained and qualified physiotherapist”
-Balansama Janneh, PT, SECHN.
What are some the challenges to delivering physiotherapy care in Sierra Leone specifically?
Some of the challenges to delivering PT services in Sierra Leone include a lack of patient and community awareness of PT services, lack of equipment, and few trained/ qualified PT personnel.
Do you have any advice to those considering a career in physiotherapy in Sierra Leone?
To those considering PT as a career in Sierra Leone I encourage you to go for it! It’s a lucrative area of specialization in health care. Physiotherapists are movement scientists whose hands on techniques can have a huge impact in their patient’s lives.