Question of the Week: Public Health
Question: I think I want to get an MPH and work in public health after I graduate. I'm only a sophomore now so I have a lot of time to decide. I'm going to do the Global Health certificate and keep thinking about it. What I'm not clear on is what I'd actually do with a degree in public health? And how does that differ from getting an MD/MPH? Thank you.
Answer: An MPH leads to a wide variety of career options, so wide that students often ask this question or something similar because the opportunities seem ill-defined. The best place to start researching career options is WhatIsPublicHealth.org, where you'll see, among other things, that an MPH leads to work in environmental health, biostatiscs, health administration, nutrition, epidemiology, health education, and more. Many of the pre-health students we see at HPA elect to go for the joint MD/MPH degree because they want to study health as it pertains to larger populations and cultures (public health) while still treating the individual (human medicine). A background in public health can benefit nearly any doctor in his/her desire to treat the "whole" patient. For a list of joint MD/MPH programs and other information, check out the Association of Schools of Public Health, and AMSA also has some good info.
Your question is not only a frequent one, but a timely one! Next week, Christina Tan '92, MD/MPH, will be our guest for 'The Doctor Is In.' She has built a career that bridges medicine and public health, and will be an excellent resource for those of you interested in making such a connection. 'The Doctor Is In' with Christina Tan takes place next Wed, Feb 29, at 7pm. See the note in 'Vitals' for details.