From Assistant to Leader: Taking the Initiative to Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

Dr. Walaa Ahmad Aldmour, a resident of the Jordan Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), has been working on collecting samples since the early days of COVID-19 in Jordan. She began this work by assisting a surgeon or otolaryngologist who would take samples from patients through the careful insertion and removal of nasopharyngeal swabs. On a typical day, Walaa helped prepare the patients for sampling and recorded their data. After several months of this, she noted the shortage of surgeons and doctors able to perform these tests and the impact of this shortage on overall testing capacity. Walaa then decided to train herself to be able to take the samples.

“I realized that if I learned this process, I would be able to work more and collect more samples, so I started training under the supervision of the surgeon with whom I was working. I did not learn this process while studying medicine in university, and that was a challenge for me.”

Walaa initially practiced by taking samples from her supervisor. The next day, she had taken five successful swabs. Soon after, she took 20 samples from workers at a government institution. Now, she is able to go out either alone or with a team and collect larger numbers of samples without supervision.

“The fear inside me of making complications while taking swabs has vanished,” says Walaa. “I started as an assistant and ended up as a leader.”

On a typical day, she ventures out carrying all of her necessary equipment, tools, and paperwork, and she and her team arrive at a hotel full of quarantined guests. After preparing them all, taking their samples, and recording their data, they move on to the next hotel and then the next, ultimately sending hundreds of samples to the laboratory.

“At the end of the day, I am very proud of my work as an epidemiology resident in the FETP who can take leadership of the team. I work with love and know very well how much the country and the world need us these days.”