"The most common questions I get from colleagues as well as people outside medicine are 'why I did an MPH' and 'what I got out of it'.
Why I did an MPH
At a macroscopic level, the one word answer to the first question is context. After three years of medical school, I was full of clinical knowledge to treat individual patients. However, I had little knowledge of population health and lacked the ability to place the skills and function of the individual physician into the context of the overall healthcare system. At a time when health care is changing perhaps more so than ever, I felt ill equipped to join the healthcare workforce. I wanted to be knowledgeable about the U.S. healthcare system and have the opportunity to participate in the inevitable culture change.
On a more tangible level, I craved specific skills. I wanted to develop the critical appraisal skills to become a savvier consumer of evidence-based medicine for my patients. I also desired the epidemiologic and statistical knowledge to conduct my own research.
What the MPH gave me
I now have a broad, foundational understanding of how the U.S. healthcare system evolved and the challenges it faces moving forward. Grasping the social, economic, and political forces that have driven (and continue to drive) our healthcare system has equipped me to participate in policy-focused research.
The MPH helped me connect the dots between clinical medicine and population health. Understanding the important differences between them allows me to appreciate my limitations as a clinician, but it simultaneously enables me to work towards increasing the health of the public.
I also acquired the critical appraisal skills to interpret the ever-increasing stream of new evidence in clinical medicine. These skills will help me both deliver more effective care for my patients and be a better custodian of healthcare resources.
Finally, I acquired hard analytical skills in both epidemiology and biostatistics. I used these skills to conduct original research. I had the excitement and fulfillment of being able to design and execute my own study. This experience confirmed that I want to pursue an academic career that includes research.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the MPH was the mentorship I received from the HC&P faculty - Dr. Harris, Dr. Viera, Dr. Calleson, and Dr. Tolleson-Rinehart. These are one-of-a-kind teachers and wise, wonderful people. It was a privilege to share the year with them, and I will draw on their teaching and mentorship for years to come."
Neeti Doshi, MPH 2011-2012:
"Think big. Without a doubt, the MPH program allows you to think big, providing a new perspective on population health outcomes that extends beyond hospital or clinic walls. The resources and mentorship available at the School of Public Health create an intellectually challenging but also collaborative environment -- a refreshing change of pace from the traditional 'medical' classroom. Throughout the year, I was pushed to analyze complex health situations, think independently and openly about health systems as a whole, and leverage a tangible skill set to offer solutions in a variety of settings. The connections you make and experiences you collect with an MPH will not only open doors to opportunities that bridge the fields of medicine and public health, but also instill a sense of humility and social justice necessary to alleviate suffering in communities around the world.
"Top 3 reasons why the MPH will make me (and you!) a better doctor:
1) The MPH equipped me to critically appraise data
The HC&P program does an excellent job of preparing students to understand and incorporate evidence-based medicine into clinical practice. Several courses in the first semester curriculum provided an invaluable foundation for interpreting medical literature. Classes in biostatistics and epidemiology prepared me to evaluate the appropriateness of various study designs and analysis methodologies. If a study reported a statistically significant result, I was challenged to think about how clinically significant that outcome could be for patients with a given disease. I was always encouraged to step back and look at the big picture -- was the study conducted in a way that makes the results plausible? If so, how might these results change the way we care for larger populations of patients?
2) The MPH prepared me to understand systems-based care
Studying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has given me a better understanding of the impact that health reform will have on delivery of care, as well as barriers that will continue to persist for patients accessing care. Perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences of the MPH was applying our knowledge in direct service to others. In a course about health reform and vulnerable populations, I worked with a group to prepare a brief report to an AIDS Service Organization about how the Affordable Care Act would improve health care access for people living with HIV/AIDS. After this year, I am less intimidated by the uncertainties heralded by the ACA and more excited about its promise for my future patients.
3) The MPH provided excellent mentors who challenged me to explore issues in-depth
One of the tremendous strengths of the MPH program is the incredible faculty support of students who want to pursue areas of interest that may not be part of the formal curriculum. Every week I looked forward to Dr. Viera's book clubs discussing 'overdiagnosis' in medicine. As part of my Master's project, I was able to take advantage of the resources of UNC's Odum Institute to learn about qualitative research methods and incorporate them into my paper. I was also fortunate to work with a collaborative Public Health/Medicine group investigating the harms of medical screening tests. Many more of my peers had the freedom to explore their own areas of interest -- including medical journalism, global ethics in medicine, and health literacy. I am so indebted to these mentors, who genuinely cared about my education, were excited to learn about my interests, and who provided constructive, valuable feedback throughout he process. Spending time with this faculty made me want to teach others too, and propagate that enthusiasm for learning and service in my future career."
|Last updated March 22, 2013|