Inspiring Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynaecology: A Spotlight on Fatoumatta Jarjusey

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Fatoumatta Jarjusey, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

By: Awa Conteh 

Get ready to be inspired by the remarkable journey of Fatoumatta Jarjusey, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology who has made significant contributions to her field, in this episode on Women in STEM. 

Fatoumatta’s journey from a young girl with big dreams to a pioneering figure in women’s health is inspiring. Fatoumatta has shattered stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of Gambian women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through her dedication, perseverance, and commitment to excellence. From her early aspirations to become a medical doctor to her current role as a leading figure in women’s health, Fatoumatta’s experiences and contributions exemplify the transformative power of pursuing one’s passions and breaking barriers in male-dominated industries like medicine and science.

Growing up in Kiang, Mrs. Jarjusey’s educational journey began at Kwinella Primary School. Transitioning to Charles Jaw Memorial Academy and later St Joseph’s Upper and Senior Secondary Schools, she pursued their academic path with determination.

Upon completing secondary education, young Fatoumatta aspired to become a pharmacist. Unfortunately, the University of the Gambia didn’t offer a pharmacy program then, and studying abroad proved too costly. Undeterred, she studied medicine at the University of the Gambia, initially covering the expenses for the first year herself. However, fortune smiled upon her as she later secured a scholarship, easing the financial burden. Initially viewing medicine as the closest alternative to pharmacy, she gradually developed a profound passion for the field. As time passed, her fondness for medicine deepened, leading her to commit wholeheartedly to pursuing it. 

Seven years of rigorous study led her to fulfill her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Her practical training commenced with a two-year internship at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), where she rotated through various departments, gaining invaluable experience. Initially, her ambition leaned toward pediatrics. However, during her internship, her focus shifted toward women’s health. Witnessing the challenges of maternal mortality and morbidity, Fatoumatta discovered her calling in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Subsequently, Mrs Jarjusey commenced her professional career as a medical officer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Her passion for this field led them to pursue further specialization. Undertaking primary exams with the West African College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, she earned the opportunity to embark on their residency program at EFSTH.

As part of the inaugural cohort of home-trained specialists in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mrs Jarjusey dedicated herself to the demanding program. Her perseverance bore fruit when she graduated in 2022, adorned with the title of specialist in OBGYN. Her journey was driven by an innate desire to alleviate suffering from a young age. Despite her initial fear of blood, she didn’t let it deter her aspirations to help others. 

Fuelled by her passion for women’s health, Mrs Jarjusey embraced the demanding workload and irregular hours with unwavering energy. For Fatoumatta, the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is one of the best and profoundly fulfilling. She finds immense joy in witnessing the transformation of women during childbirth – from the intense pain of labor to the radiant smiles that follow the birth of their babies. 

“Seeing a woman screaming her brains out because of the excruciating pain of labor and seeing all that pain replaced with the most beautiful smile after hearing her baby cry is a priceless moment for the woman and her family,” she told The Alkamba Times. 

Balancing work as a medical doctor with further education, like pursuing a master’s degree in public health, posed significant challenges for Fatoumatta. Managing time and commitments during this period required careful planning and sacrifices. For instance, taking study leave was necessary to travel abroad for the master’s program, resulting in being away from work and close family members. Despite the emotional strain of separation, the fully funded scholarship program alleviated her financial concerns, making the journey less burdensome. 

As a woman in the medical field, Mrs Jarjusey proudly noted the female-dominated nature of her department, with supportive men and an absence of stereotyping. However, she acknowledges the obstacles encountered in male-dominated fields, such as being labeled as less competent, gender bias, and lacking female representation in leadership roles. She believes navigating these challenges demands resilience, self-advocacy, and support from allies within and outside the workplace. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing one’s worth and contribution, regardless of gender stereotypes, affirming that everyone deserves to thrive in their chosen field. 

In her commitment to community health, Fatoumatta actively participates in initiatives to enhance healthcare accessibility and outcomes in underserved areas. She recognizes the significance of primary healthcare, especially in regions with limited access to higher levels of care, and she focuses on preventive measures like cervical cancer screening.

Her involvement spans hospital-based and community-driven screening programs and initiatives for cervical cancer prevention. Additionally, she dedicates herself to research endeavors centered on cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Through her efforts, she aims to alleviate the burden of this disease and promote better health outcomes for all.

“Primary health care is very important in our part of the world as access to other levels might be challenging, so preventive measures like screening for cervical cancer is one of my areas of interest,” she said.

Fatoumatta Jarjusey, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Balancing commitments requires careful planning, setting boundaries, and self-awareness. Mrs. Jarjusey emphasized prioritizing what matters most and managing time efficiently to achieve a fulfilling and balanced life at work and in her pursuits.

She mentioned her unwavering dedication to attending ceremonies, acknowledging that her colleagues readily support her by covering for her at work when needed. This highlighted her workplace’s mutual understanding and cooperation, allowing her to pursue her passions outside her professional responsibilities.

Medicine requires staying up-to-date on innovations and best practices like any other field. She relies heavily on reading to keep abreast of the latest medical research and best practices in obstetrics and gynecology. Engaging in Continuous Medical Education activities such as conferences, seminars, and online courses is a cornerstone of her strategy. Additionally, she maintains journal subscriptions, actively participates in professional organizations within and outside her subregion, and prioritizes evidence-based medicine.

These strategies enable her to remain current with medical knowledge, ultimately enhancing patient care and improving outcomes. 

Every career path comes with its own set of struggles. As the chief resident of the OBGYN department for two years, Fatoumatta encountered numerous challenges, including leadership transition, time management, interpersonal dynamics, educational responsibilities, work-life balance, and professional development.

“Overcoming these challenges was hard, but I established authority, maintained open communication, set realistic goals, and delegated responsibilities. I also developed strong communication skills by actively listening and providing constructive feedback, continuously learning and researching.” She said. 

Throughout her journey, Mrs. Jarjusey has been committed to continually enhancing her clinical skills and pursuing subspecialty training in obstetrics and gynecology. Additionally, she prioritizes academic pursuits, engaging in research and scholarly activities to advance medical knowledge. Aspiring to leadership roles within healthcare organizations, she aims to influence policy and advocate for patients and colleagues, contributing positively to the healthcare system.

On a personal level, Fatoumatta values a healthy work-life balance and prioritizes time for her interests, hobbies, and family commitments. She believes in lifelong learning and self-care, prioritizing continuous education and maintaining health and wellness. Furthermore, she is dedicated to giving back to the community through volunteer work and advocacy initiatives, aiming to positively impact society at large.

As we conclude this episode, let us reflect on the journey of Fatoumatta Jarjusey and the inspiring example she sets for Gambian women in STEM. Through her dedication to excellence, commitment to empowering women, and unwavering passion for her field, Fatoumatta has transformed the landscape of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams and make a difference in their communities. Let us celebrate Fatoumatta’s accomplishments and continue supporting and uplifting women in STEM, ensuring they can thrive and succeed in pursuing their passions in The Gambia and beyond.

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