School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Student Profile

Tewodros Hailemariam image
PhD - Couples HIV Testing in Ethiopia: exploring attitudes, beliefs, experiences and acceptance among heterosexual couples living in Addis Ababa
Mode of study : 
Country : 
Previous Education : 
Master of Public Health (MPH), Bachelor of Science (Environmental Health)

It is easy to choose the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM), UNSW Sydney if one is thinking to peruse a PhD in public health and community medicine. In 2015/16, I was searching for scholarship opportunities to pursue a PhD degree in public health. I found out that UNSW Sydney has various types of scholarship opportunities, and the university is also one of the top universities in Australia and globally. The SPHCM, in particular, has reputations over the years in research and high-quality education. More importantly, finding supervisors who are experts in the research area and keen to work with me was a vital factor. All these together eased the decision making to enrol in the SPHCM PhD program. 

Summary of research project

My research project is focused on understanding the role of salient beliefs and individual’s experience in Couples HIV Testing and Counselling (CHTC) services in Ethiopia. It’s a mixed-methods project designed to inform HIV testing and counselling policies and practices to improve the services in Ethiopia and other similar countries. 

Enjoyed most about research program

Perusing a PhD degree is a fascinating experience. The journey is full of mixed emotions as a student one experiences along the way. Sometimes I found myself in exciting moments following an accomplishment of some millstones of the PhD. Some other time, it is also common to be anxious or stressful because of overwhelming deadlines. However, the most enjoyable part of this program is observing my own transformation as a researcher through the continuous and rigorous discussion I had with supervisors. In this discussion, sometimes, I may have a different position than my supervisors, but it doesn’t mean that someone is wrong or right. It is just having a different view of the world or an issue. I believe such continuous and rigorous discussion is the centre of the PhD program and shapes vital aspects of the journey so as the student becomes an independent researcher. 

Message to newly commencing students

My PhD fellows, you started a rewarding journey in a highly regarded school in public health and community medicine. This journey is adventurous and requires to be open-minded for new ideas, new way of doing things. From experience, I reckon you need your spirit of resilience and negotiation skills to manage your journey and complete the program successfully. Make sure you can use all available resources, including your supervisors and amazing staff at the School to deal with any issue you have regarding your PhD. 

How degree will assist in career

As someone who is enthusiastic in a research career, this PhD journey is a platform for building essential skills, including critical thinking, project management, communication, negotiation, and many more to become an independent researcher in the field of public health. The skills, along with a research degree qualification from such esteemed university, will establish my credibility to work anywhere with high profile experts in the field.