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“Public Health? I didn’t even go to any of the lectures!”

Our intercalation series continues with Ellen's account of one of the less common intercalated degrees- the MPH. Check it out...

I usually get a lot of funny looks and raised eyebrows when people find out I intercalated in Public Health, and people even assume that I don’t want to be “a real doctor” anymore! I am always very passionately defensive about public health and why I chose it – there is so much more to it than just smoking and obesity, and it's really useful for lots of specialties, from general practice to surgery. So, why should you consider it?

You don’t have to want to do Public Health as a specialty to get a lot out of it


I didn’t actually plan on doing an MPH but stumbled across it by accident. I had e-mailed an anaesthetist about doing an MRes, and they suggested I look at the Public Health courses – you can do an MSc focussing on Public Health, Global Health or Health Services Research. I chose the MPH as it’s an internationally recognised qualification, and takes a year off the training if you do ever decide to pursue a career in Public Health. Additionally, having a Masters-level qualification in Public Health allows you to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Public Health and have the post-nominal letters FRCPH!


What do you actually learn?

There's a lot of statistics in the Public Health courses, but you go through everything from complete beginner level and get a solid understanding of medical statistics, which is really useful. You also do compulsory modules in quantitative research, qualitative research and systematic reviews – so your dissertation research can be on anything you like! The course also equips you with valuable knowledge on a range of medical research methods and how they are conducted.


There are other modules on healthcare quality, health economics, health policy, global health, epidemiology and more “classic” public health-related modules such as public health protection, public health intervention and health inequalities. The skills you gain from these modules are useful for a broad range of specialties such as anaesthetics, surgery, paediatrics, obs and gynae… the list goes on! Working in any department in the NHS requires a basic understanding of cost-effective care, and most speciality applications will be greatly improved by experience in quality improvement and an understanding of health policy.


How do I find out more?

I would recommend speaking to students and staff, and having a look online at previous research projects. You can also get a list of potential research projects by getting in contact with the course admin team to get an idea of what possibilities are out there – but bear in mind that your project can be on anything, so if there's something you fancy doing that isn't on the list, you can still make it happen!


So, if you (like me) don’t know yet what specialty to pursue, the MPH can be a great opportunity to gain a much deeper understanding of one area of medicine, whilst keeping your options open!

Guest Blog: Ellen Meredith, 23.11.2018


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