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Rawnaq Behnam presented her research at the Society and Family Planning Conference this past October

I am a second year undergraduate student majoring in Global Health. Yes, I survived my first year of college! It was a tough year, but thanks to everyone that supported me I made it through. My interest in pursuing a career in the field of women’s health was my main motivation. My passion to serve women in my community is growing with me as I continue my career path in Global Health. 

I started working as a qualitative research assistant at UCSD during my first month of college on an interdisciplinary project entitled: Assessing Barriers to Contraceptive Care among Resettled Refugee Women: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Disparities in Quality and Access. Our goal is to understand how past and present experiences in reproductive healthcare settings affect women’s decisions in relation to family planning and contraceptives methods. We conduct person-centered interviews  in order to understand their healthcare experiences and access barriers. I co-conduct interviews in partnership with MD/PhD student Morgen Chalmiers and assist in interview transcription and translation. This helps us recap the information and consider any problems missed during the interview. We then use computer software to code the transcripts and identify recurring themes. Our goal is to better understand the problems surrounding our healthcare system and develop innovative policy suggestions to improve access to reproductive healthcare among resettled refugee women.  

Working on this project for over a year now, I have some valuable experiences. I have learned what it means to struggle to get your message across even when there is an interpreter present. Lots of our research participants have reported that over the phone interprets in clinics are not as efficient. This is due to the different dialects in Arabic. Refugee women do not feel their message gets delivered and understood coherently. 

Attending the Society of Family Planning Conference this past October allowed me to get Syrian Refugee women’s message across. During my poster presentation, I was able to to explain this very challenge faced by our patients.

I gained valuable experience in presenting at this conference. I was able to meet many OB/GYN doctors and care providers from all States. I learned about, current refugee policies, women’s reproductive justice, and new birth control methods being developed. Global Health topics have helped develop my skills as a researcher in women’s health field. I, myself, as a refugee have experienced so many obstacles trying to express my ideas. Not being able to communicate health concerns is an issue in our clinics. Language is a reproductive justice issue. I will strive to address the barriers women from my community face as I continue my career as a researcher in women’s health and Global Health field. 

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