Shadowing a DoctorFebruary 19, 2014
A degree in public health can be a tremendous asset to medical researchers and clinicians as it teaches you essential critical thinking skills and can help you better understand the workings of policymakers. This in turn can go a long way in reinforcing your adaptability and caring for patients with a greater understanding of how decisions made for individual patients can influence the entire community.
Public healthcare initiatives
A healthy community needs medications, but it also needs clean water, safe food, fresh air and effective waste management. Apart from this, the public authorities are also required to keep an eye on any communicable diseases that might surface in the community. Understanding public health allows individuals to contribute effectively to the betterment of society. A Masters of Public Health is the bridge between patients and the community. It helps doctors understand the wider implications of care as there is always the issue of balancing the cost of medical care and the funding that is available.
Even on a global level, many public healthcare initiatives are undertaken and have proved to be successful. For example, the cholera outbreak in Haiti that resulted from the 2010 earthquake was curbed very effectively with initiatives such as these. Distribution of mosquito nets across Tanzania and eradication of polio in Pakistan are other examples of global public health initiatives. The public health vaccination programs that have been carried out in the US have gone a long way in getting rid of small pox, polio and typhus.
Smoking rates in the US have also been brought down by a large degree, after the 1960 report on negative health-effects of smoking was released by the U.S. Surgeon General. Tobacco ads were prohibited on TV and smoke-free zones are now on the rise in public, work and entertainment place. This has helped in reducing smoking rates.
Public health teaches medical researchers and clinicians these skills and they get a first-hand understanding of how the health systems operate in real world. If you are keen on expanding the scope of your medical career by earning a Masters of Public Health, first concentrate on getting accepted into and performing well in a medical school. When you are planning to apply, look for research medical schools that have a mix of medical degrees and masters of public health.
If you opt to attend a medical school that does not have an attached school of public health, look for a school that is within an easy commuting distance or consider relocating for 1 year to a public health school of your choice. Another important thing is to identify an experienced mentor at your medical school who is also interested in public health and one who will be able to guide you on this route.
While it is definitely a benefit to have an MPH there are various other opportunities for public health training once you have completed your public degree. One such opportunity is with the Epidemic Intelligence Service.
Whether you have interest in health policy and management, epidemiology, international health or maternal-child medicine, a Masters of Public Health can easily combine with any speciality to broaden your knowledge base and contribute to the formation of healthier communities. In many ways, you will benefit from a Master of Public Health degree throughout your career.