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Student’s Career Goals Take Shape During Qualitative Research Project on the Role of Pediatric Community Health Workers

Samiha Tahsin headshot

May 24, 2023

Samiha Tahsin graduated from Dornsife in March 2023 with a Master’s of Public Health (majoring in Community Health and Prevention) with a minor in Maternal and Child Health (MCH).

Samiha’s interest in maternal and child health issues started before she was aware of the public health field. In Samiha’s family, and in the South Asian community, many women have experienced child marriages. Generations of Samiha’s family were child brides thus she has witnessed the mental and physical effects of giving birth at such a young age.

"This experience made it clear to me that working in the field of maternal and child health is where I belong. It solidified my interest in qualitative research, as I found myself enjoying the process from collecting the data to analyzing it." - Samiha Tahsin

Samiha had a desire to help her grandmother and other women that were married at such young ages. After applying to Drexel University and taking her first maternal and child health course, she knew she had found her place.

Samiha received a mini grant from the Drexel MCH Program to support her work at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. The project was titled, "Defining the Role, Value, and Training of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the Pediatric Setting from the Perspective of CHWs, Caregivers, and other Health Care Providers."

Through interviews, the project aimed to better understand the challenges community healthcare workers face, the core competencies required for community health worker training programs, and the perceptions of community healthcare workers by healthcare professionals.

The MCH Program spoke with Samiha to learn more about her MCH workforce development project.

What did you do on the project? What products did you produce?

I was able to further develop my qualitative analysis skills by receiving training and utilizing Nvivo. I examined and coded thirty-one transcripts using NVivo and an inductive approach to create coding schemes.

This led to the development of a codebook which identified themes most relevant to the project. My final deliverable was creating code reports of the 10 frequent themes that I considered as the codes that would best aid in answering our research questions.

What did you learn from the experience?

This was an invaluable learning experience. I received training to gain qualitative data analysis skills while also developing a greater understanding of and appreciation for community health workers (CHWs).

This experience allowed me to better define the role and value of CHWs, to understand the distinction between CHWs and social workers, and the impact CHWs have on the quality of life and health of children and families. This project was my first time doing qualitative coding which helped me realize how much I enjoyed it, and I was able to carry that skill into my ILE.

How did your training at Dornsife prepare you for the experience? How did the experience augment your training experience at Dornsife?

I understood the key principles and methods of MCH through a public health lens due to my training at Dornsife. My concentration in Community Health and Prevention further trained me in the use of qualitative approaches. However, the APE provided me with the chance to apply the knowledge I learned in the classroom. It also influenced the type of opportunity I searched for when it came to my ILE because I realized I wanted to further my skills as a qualitative researcher.

How did it impact your future career goals?

I am taking a break for the next year, but I will be working with Dr. Turchi and Dr. Carroll-Scott to write a manuscript for publication. However, this experience made it clear to me that working in the field of maternal and child health is where I belong. It solidified my interest in qualitative research, as I found myself enjoying the process from collecting the data to analyzing it. As for my future career goals, I plan to seek positions that will allow me to be primarily involved in qualitative research.

What advice would you give to current MCH students?

Drexel’s MCH program offers countless numbers of opportunities for students including internships, leadership positions, funding to attend conferences, and in my case funding for my APE, and much more.

Considering this, I would tell students to take advantage and gain as much experience as they can. I would also say it’s a crucial time to network! Connect and build a relationship with your mentor as they can provide you with support and guidance. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors whose work you’re interested in. And lastly, if you ever want more information regarding MCH-related opportunities, reach out to Dr. Renee Davis!

Learn more about Dornsife's MCH program and upcoming MCH events.

Dornsife's Maternal and Child Health Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit