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Could a career in public health be better for ME? Need help

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Paulz

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Hi. I am currently an undergrad in my second year of college but I am thinking ahead. I really want to be in the health/medical field doing something. I volunteer at a hospital right now and work primarily with PAs and a few attendings and I really enjoy it. Except I really love to travel also. If I choose to become a MD or PharmD, I have no real option to travel internationally. I do, but it's very hard and the money you are in debt is really difficult to get out of.(Spending $200,000 on med school then going to work in Africa or Haiti for almost nothing will be very difficult to get out of).

My question is: would a career in Public Health allow me to frequently travel and work/live in other countries? What's really important to me(not in any order) is: a)traveling b)clincial work c)patient contact.

Could anything in Public Health allow me to do those more so than a career in the medical field would?

Thank you

Paulz
 

KGkhan23

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I don't know a whole lot about the topic, but do consider that MPH programs are not cheap either. If you have a good public program in your state (UMich, UWash, UNC, etc.) it can be a bit cheaper, but in the end, it's a lot of investment for a not so great salary. If you do public health, make sure that you'll prefer it to being a doctor. Do you not have an in-state medical school?
 

thedelicatessen

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Is your interest in international travel stemmed in a desire to bring healthcare to underdeveloped countries or to take joyrides around the world? I would actually say that as a doctor, you have MORE international travel options that are available through the job than the average joe (e. g. Doctors Without Borders). Medical school definitely does involve debt, but if you really feel passionately about doing international work, it is definitely doable. On the other hand, if you're more into tourism in general, many docs take pretty lavish vacations, and that too is pretty doable. I really love how many different career options are available in medicine beyond the traditional doctor roles, but it's important to remember the huge responsibility of being a physician as reflected by the intense investment of time and effort.

There are definitely a lot of relevant international public health topics, and I suppose there is international consultant work available at the MPH level. However, I highly doubt it's lucrative if money is a talking point for you, and you would probably need A LOT of experience before having an established career. At any rate, I hope you find the career path that's right for you.
 

jlittlej

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I think I replied to another of your threads, but also cool as a physician is taking an extended contract in Australia or New Zealand. It's certainly not American M.D. money, but you could still make loan payments.
 

SarahMadison

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I have 12 credits left for my undergrad Public Health degree and am debating the same thing about med school and going on to get my MPH. I really am torn because I want to travel as well. One of the great things about my program is that next year I get to travel abroad to Ireland and study there for PH. I beleive that many schools offer these abroad studies that you should invest time in this to see what international medicine/ph is all about.
 

VaidyaKumari

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HI sarahh, ru curently enrolled in MPH prgram,can just give a glimpse of the nature of course work? Am applyng to this program and i am really scared about the Biostatics...so can u help me??
 

DrJosephKim

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I have some friends involved in international health as either an MPH alone, or a combined MD, MPH. What type of work do you see yourself doing?

Investigating disease outbreaks and epidemiology? Working for the CDC or WHO? Try to define what type of work you see yourself doing.

You'll certainly have more opportunities as an MD, MPH. You can get an MD, then do a preventive medicine residency that includes an MPH.
 

Paulz

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Moving this up again....


What I ideally would like would be to work in an area for 1-3 years, have some kind of personal/patient contact, make a moderate amount of money, and have options anywhere I wish to go.

Any more advice?
 

AB2008

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Sounds to me like you should go to med school, or even get an RN. I have an MPH and don't think it would be very easy for me to get a job with patient contact. I personally don't feel that a MPH without the clinical component is nearly as valuable as with the clinical component. I know some people working internationally with their MPH, but I have to believe that many had financial help from their folks....An MPH can be really expensive and international jobs pay quite poorly. Just my two cents.
 

LanaJade

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Sounds to me like you should go to med school, or even get an RN. I have an MPH and don't think it would be very easy for me to get a job with patient contact. I personally don't feel that a MPH without the clinical component is nearly as valuable as with the clinical component. I know some people working internationally with their MPH, but I have to believe that many had financial help from their folks....An MPH can be really expensive and international jobs pay quite poorly. Just my two cents.
I agree. I just graduated with my MPH and my current work does not involve patient contact. However, I'm making more than I would have if I had taken a job with patient/participant contact. Even though I applied for those type of jobs also, many wanted more experience than I had and paid only enough to cover basic living expenses living in the city. Remember that you'll probably be taking out at least 40k in loans and then have to worry about paying that back in addition to college loans.

With that said, I loved my MPH experience and I enjoy my job. I also know people working internationally with their MPH and they do have help from their folks. It also seems that the higher up in the ladder you go within an organization, the less patient/participant contact you have since you become more administrative/managerial. Looking into med school or RN is a good choice. Social work can be great for patient contact too, but I'm not sure about its opportunities internationally.

You're in your second year. Why not find an international program for a summer or semester and see if you like it?
 

bluesfan

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I agree with the comments made above. I have an MPH, albeit not in international health, but I do not have patient contact. Most of the work you do in PH is more administrative and not very clinically focused unless you already have a clinical background. Depending on your area of interest in PH, the field does not pay very well either. For the aforementioned reasons, I have decided to go back to school and am applying for optometry school for next fall. PH is a great field that gives you a good background and understanding of health issues from a population perspective but does not give you the clinical contact that you may be searching for. Take the advice of the other posts and see if you can find an opportunity to do some work and/or study abroad to see if this is what you really want. Good luck whatever you decide.
 

xdopaminex

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You might want to consider becoming a PA--it only takes 2 years, the salaries are attractive, and you will get the patient contact you desire.

The only caveat is that other countries do not recognize the PA, so if you ever want to settle outside the US, you should go the MD route directly.
 

newyorkisrainin

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i've just started school for my MPH so take what i say with that in mind. I concur with previous posts that you may want to look into an RN or MD degree, it really seems to make the most sense if you want to combine travel and patient contact. As for the monetary points, whether you have an MD or an MPH odds are you won't be making that much money working internationally but your earnings should be good enough if you are working for a European or American NGO (and there are probably many repayment programs that help you out if you're doing this kind of work)

That being said, there are many many different fields within public health and what you would be doing internationally with an MPH seems to depend on what your specific concentration is. For example, if you're interested in health policy or management I know of people helping to set up hospitals and clinics in poor areas of Africa, or if you're more interested in research from a biostatistics framework for example, there are opportunities to go abroad and collect data/do analysis internationally. Given, you wouldn't be directly administering care, but there is the opportunity for patient interaction.
 
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