In this article Kim reflects on her research work that she carried out in Sierra Leone as part of her degree:
Patient experiences of triage in Sierra Leone
I carried out my research at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, looking at patient experiences of triage – the prioritisation and allocation of treatment according to the urgency of patients’ need for care. I was in Freetown for eight weeks conducting my research which involved patient interviews and observations of triage. For this I was lucky enough to be working with the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership (KSLP), who have developed a strong partnership with Connaught Hospital.
Exciting new challenges
My background is emergency nursing, so I had a solid understanding of triage. However, having never been to Sierra Leone, worked in a developing context or conducted a research project before, this was a steep learning curve for me. There were many challenges along the way, working with a vulnerable population and working in another language and culture particularly. I was lucky to have a local research assistant who taught me so much of the culture. Triage was only introduced at Connaught Hospital in 2014 and since then has seen many changes. Sierra Leone itself is a low resource setting with severe skilled workforce shortages, exacerbated by the recent Ebola crisis.