Arifah Nur Shadrina is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Attending Physician at Kalitanjung Child and Adolescent Clinic, West Java.
What is your current position?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer, so basically, I help run an adult and child clinic in Cirebon—a small city in Java Island, one of the most populous islands in Indonesia. We have around 17,000 islands, and Java is one of the biggest.
Besides managing the clinic, I’m also a general practitioner and I also teach social pediatrics in midwifery school.
I work in multiple roles because I see poverty, illiteracy, and disease, as a vicious circle, but I believe that it can be broken down by good education and health. In 2016 I also founded a movement and platform named “Golden Care,”. We fund this platform with clinic revenue.
What brought you to your current position?
In 2013, when I was doing my clerkship, I became very motivated. At the time, I was appointed to lead a community service program. We lived in the rural area for about two or three months. That time was very eye-opening and built my confidence. I learned about civic engagement, community development, collective empowerment. We taught people to produce their own business, to help them to have more ability to achieve good health. I was one of the three medical students; there were engineering, economics, and law students. We tried to solve problems as a community. I know that we are young, but I believe that you are never too young to lead. I feel so empowered by that time.
Before graduation, the chief of a department of my medical school appointed me to be a project manager in a national tuberculosis research project. We basically developed a guideline for contact in MDR-TB and pediatrics patient. I was trusted to lead the team.
In 2015, from that experience, I signed up for a mission by the Indonesian Minister of Health. Eighteen doctors and I were assigned in a very remote area in Lumajang, Indonesia—one of the least developed places in Java, so there’s no electricity, no water and no public transport. You have to use a motorbike to get into the location. And again, my colleagues asked me to lead them.
We practiced medicine and conducted a project in sanitation and hygiene. We did a cohort study of about 900 primary school students and saw a decrease in the prevalence of scabies, diarrhea, and acute respiratory tract infections. From our research, we advised the district health office and they adopted that intervention.
After serving one year in Lumajang, I decided to run my own clinic. I asked two others, and we developed it from scratch. Now I’m still trying to grow and develop this clinic.
What is something that you wish to accomplish in your career or any goals that you have?
During I my lifetime, I really want to see my family be empowered, productive, and healthy. Health is actually complicated; you have social health, economic health, psychological health, not only physical, right?
But in the long-term, I really want to be a pediatrician who not only focuses on curative and rehabilitative measures, but also on preventive and promotive actions. I really want to be that kind of comprehensive, 5-star doctor, 5-star pediatrician. That’s kind of my number one goal. Maybe from being that kind of pediatrician I could help the community better.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your current position?
There is no one biggest challenge, but I think one of the biggest challenges is to build a synergistic partnership with government and community. And to have your colleagues understand what you want, and to work together . Resonating the vision and mission, not only to your staff, but to the community, the government, to translate that idea, to turn ideas into action, that is the biggest challenge. I think there is no single best answer, but it’s important to just do it.
What made you want to apply to GHDI? When you were applying, what were you hoping to get out of this program?
In Indonesia, it is very rare for doctors to think about public health. Everyone wants to be clinicians, and pure clinicians. Preventive and promotive action is something that doctors think is not our problem; The doctor’s problem is to treat patients.
My experience in the rural area opened my mind. I was googling Paul Farmer and Michael Porter; they’re all my stars. Michael Porter mentioned about global health delivery in one of his YouTube videos.
I hope that from this network, and from GHDI, I can learn more about global health. I also need more insights, I need encouragement, affirmation that what I am doing is the right thing, and there are other people studying the same thing. We are not the only ones who are making the possible changes, but that we are moving together. I get encouragement that I’m not going in the wrong direction.
I’m also looking for a network. When I applied, I thought that this would be great. The network will not only be family, but we’ll also broaden our perspectives, be able to exchange insights, exchange information, exchange a lot of things.
What impact do you think GHDI will have on your career?
I will return with insights on how to transform the lives of our patients, our families, with encouragement and inspirations, knowing that what I dream of for my community around me is possible. That, I can do this.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I think what makes me proud, is not the work that I’m doing, but the people I’m working with. I’m most proud of my colleagues, my professors who trust me to lead, my family who always supports me, my patients, the preschool teachers that I’m working with, the patients that say, “Dr. Arifah I already did what you asked me to do, and I see progress.” That is the best reward I’ve ever had. Seeing your patients know that they can do better for themselves, to get empowered, that’s what makes me proud.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in healthcare in your country?
I would say just do it. No matter what, just do it. Leadership is not a matter of position, but a matter of choice we make everyday.
Have high standards, so you can always see the problems in your community. If you see problems, that’s good. If you see nothing, you won’t fix anything, and you’ll just stay in your comfort zone where you feel like everything is okay, but it’s not. Problems are not there to burden you, but to challenge you, to make you better. It’s a chance for you to learn more, to make yourself better, your families better, I think that’s what I’d say. And never be afraid to start something new, and have patience. If that’s your passion, you will be restless. Passion is a combination of what you love, what you’re good at, and what your community needs. If healthcare is your passion, if you think it’s a combination of the three, just do it.