Leadership as a choice we make every day: An interview with Arifah Nur Shadrina

September 10, 2018
Arifah Nur Shadrina

Arifah Nur Shadrina is the Chief Operating Officer and an Attending Physician at Kalitanjung Child and Adolescent Clinic, West Java. She is also the founder of GoldenCare.ID and a lecturer at the Ministry of Health’s Polytechnic. 

What is your current position?

My daily routine is practicing medicine, running a child and adolescent clinic and social movement, and teaching social pediatrics and child health in Cirebon. Poverty, illiteracy, and disease as vicious circle that I see on daily basis urges me that investing in health education is crucial to break the circle, and every child should get the gold-standard care that is born from adequate parental and community literacy. This thought motivated me to start initiating movement called GoldenCare.ID where we train parents and preschool teachers, build capacity among local health workers, and provide quality health care and education for a community, and also educate through social media. I am also involved in a human development project in Cirebon that works in education motivation, public speaking, English coaching, and has a scholarship mentorship program.

What brought you to your current position?

Since medical school, I was convinced to help people by learning to be a competent clinician for my patients and also contribute myself to the community. With the support from people around me, I got involved in several social projects and won gold in national medical Olympiad. One of the turning points in my life is when I led a community empowerment program in remote Java. I felt that I have found my calling and was encouraged to initiate a movement called Indonesia Cerdas where I engage youth to teach in elementary and middle school about formal education, health, environment, and soft skills.

After graduated in early 2015, I was appointed to be a project manager in a pediatric tuberculosis research project. At the end of 2015, I led a team of 18 medical doctors who were dedicated to serve in remote areas of Lumajang under the Indonesian Ministry of Health. We practiced medicine and conducted a project in sanitation and hygiene. We designed an intervention, and did a study of approximately 800 primary school students and saw a decrease in the prevalence of scabies, diarrhea, and acute respiratory tract infections. From that study, we advised the district health office and they adopted the intervention.

In 2016, I was selected as YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) Fellow and received full scholarship to study civic engagement in University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Portland, Oregon. In 2017, I had the opportunity to learn more about global health in University of Antwerp, Belgium and public health management in PGIMER India, both on full, merit-based scholarships.

After 1 year plus serving the community in Lumajang, I decided to run a clinic in Cirebon and initiated GoldenCare.ID where we engage hundreds of parents, especially mothers and health care workers in the community. In the future, I hope tocontinue developing the clinic and GoldenCare.ID, touch more lives, educating more women, and expand my knowledge and skills in child health and public health.

What is something that you wish to accomplish in your career or any goals that you have?

I would like to see each family in my community empowered to be productive and healthy. Now I am working on developing the clinic and GoldenCare.ID. There is some demand to develop this initiative outside Cirebon as well. I am also now synthesizing idea of infusing economic empowerment in this initiative to make this movement stronger at the grassroots. I aspire to be physician, educator, and global health activist who can integrate curative, rehabilitative, promotive, and preventive measures; provide quality and accessible services and information to community; and take part in educating the next generation of health care professional in Indonesia.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your current position?

To translate the ideas into action and to start are the paramount challenges. The other challenge would be to build a synergistic partnership and collaborate with other stakeholders in order to widen our impact, because every stakeholder has different interest and many times there is resistance to change. And to resonate the vision and mission, my goal is to have the team understand each other and to work together. I think there is no single best solution to overcome the challenge, but I think it’s important to be proactive and be ready to learn along the way and think outside the box.

What made you want to apply to GHDI? When you were applying, what were you hoping to get out of this program?

I hoped that from GHDI, I could see the bigger picture of value-based health care. I was also looking for insights, inspiration, motivation, and encouragement that we are working on this together and that change is possible. When I applied, I also thought the network would be a great take-away from the program. Now we have gotten to know each other, I am hopeful we can move in the same direction and collaborate to create effective interventions across cultures and societies.

What impact do you think GHDI will have on your career?

GHDI has inspired me, so I will come back home with better insight to improve the system and help my community play a more active role to transform their health. I have met so many incredible people in GHDI, and I have learned a lot from them. I am honored and very excited to be part of this network of joyful warriors, keep in contact, and continue to learn from them. I found GHDI is very relevant to my community situation and would be a perfect stepping-stone to my future endeavor. The course contents and experts are second to none and complement each other. It broadens our perspectives and expands our horizon.

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 am beyond grateful for my team, my patients, my students, colleagues, teachers, and importantly my family, who trust me, support me, and are passionate about making this world a better place. This always gives me Goosebumps: we actually can do this together. I am proud that they take the steps to be empowered and take initiative to uplift others, and do that with me.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in healthcare in your country?

I would say “just do it”. Believe in your vision, take initiative, maintain your integrity and conscience, and do it with your heart. There will be a lot of challenges, but I always believe that nothing is impossible, regardless of who you are; every one of us can make a difference. Leadership is not a matter of position, but it is the choice we make every day. Keep your values, so you could always see where the problem is and which areas need to be improved. A problem is the difference between your values or idealism and the reality. If you see problems, that’s a good thing. 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. Problems are not there to burden you, they are instead a chance for you and your community to learn more and be better.

Gratitude and appreciation are the essence of a good life, so try to always appreciate everything in life and people you meet. Never be afraid to start something new and have patience. If healthcare is your passion, if you think it’s a combination of what you love, what you think you could be good at, and it is what your community need, then be ready to be a lifelong learner and just do it!