Global Health alumna Annlaug applies her experience to Covid-19 communication

Name: Annlaug Selstø
Degree: Master's in Global Health (2020)
Current role: Senior advisor for Covid-19, Infection control and emergency preparedness at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Based: Oslo, Norway

KI alumna profile photo
KI alumna Annlaug Selstø Photo: Oda Berby

What is your background and educational experience?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Högskolan på Vestlandet in Norway.

As a child, I wanted to “save the world” with work that could have an impact. Once I finished the mandatory two years of  working as a nurse, I applied to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). My first mission took me to Sierra Leone and worked with children, primary health and outreach activities. This was a critical stepping stone, and paved the way to my involvement in paediatrics, primary health and migration health activities back in Norway and further missions with MSF. 

Why did you choose KI?

After completing four missions with MSF,  I wanted to add a more global aspect to my knowledge base. A friend in MSF had taken the Global Health Master’s program at KI. When I learned more about the program, it sounded like a perfect match!

I can say that the program gave me the knowledge that I desired… to see health care from the global perspective.

Annlaug Selstø , on her experience as a KI student

KI alumna in Malawi
KI alumna Annlaug Selstø in Malawi for her thesis project Photo: Annlaug Selstø

How do you remember your time at KI? 

I found the programme quite intense, especially learning the research methodology in such a short period of time. Now, afterwards, I can say that the program gave me the knowledge that I desired… to see health care from the global perspective. The class discussions with very experienced classmates and teachers were so enriching.

A highlight was my thesis project. I went to Malawi for 3 weeks in the spring of 2020 (just before the pandemic lockdown).  My project was focused on child mortality and the hospital referral system in the Michinji District, a rural area in Malawi.

 

After you graduated from KI, what was your next step and how did you find this opportunity?

I applied for a lot of jobs. I made a list of the institutions I wanted to work for, with Folkehelseinstituttet -the Norwegian Institute of Public Health – at the top on my list.. I started applying for positions before graduation from February 2020 with no luck. As a nurse, I was used to a very easy job market, but I knew my patience would pay off.

Toward the end of the summer, Folkehelseinstituttet was recruiting people to work with Covid contact tracing. I got a very unexpected phone call from them after registering on a list of healthcare professionals ready to work, then I sent them my CV, got the job, and started a week after with the contact tracing team. As part of the team, I was involved in work with contact tracing, outbreak response, surveillance, statistics and a research study.

What is your current role?

In January 2021, I became Senior Advisor for Covid-19 at Folkehelseinstituttet. My primary task is adapting communications to different target groups, specifically vulnerable populations. Via the Folkehelseinstituttet webpage, we share knowledge about Covid-19, and provide updates about the pandemic.

Describe a day on the job.

It changes fast. Often my days are filled with virtual meetings about local outbreaks, the overall country situation, and running the latest statistics. I also update the communications on regulations about travel, quarantine, isolation and general advice to the public. One challenge is to determine and adapt the communication message to different levels of knowledge, which ranges from health care professionals to the general public.

What are your future aspirations?

I am very happy and fortunate to have this opportunity to work at my first priority institution. I plan to stay at Folkehelseinstituttet, and broaden my knowledge on epidemiology. Eventually, I would like to work abroad again and apply my Global health training on different grounds.  

What is your advice to current students?

Study hard, take advantage of all the great resources at KI, and make sure to network!

For your job search, make a list of the institutions or organizations you’d like to work for. There might even be possibilities to write your thesis together with one of them.

Don’t forget to have fun too!

 

Editors note: Annlaug also has a Bachlor’s degree in Drama and Theater Communication and a degree in Creative Writing. She has published her first novel Vera ein annan stad  a fictional work about a nurse in South Sudan.