Jul 28, 2009
117
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Gold Coast of CT --> Poughkeepsie NY --> ????
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I'm an undergrad at a northeastern liberal arts college looking into public health work in combination with another degree. I'm not certain as to whether I'd like to go into a clinical health field or work on the policy side. However, I am working on the medical or physician assistant prerequisites so I will have some of the basic science background. I'm currently doing an internship at my local health department, mostly working on epidemiology and surveillance. From my experience, I've found both epidemiology and policy rewarding, but without the formal academic work in either, it's tough to decide.

Regarding degrees, I was considering:

JD/MPH and then doing a PhD in health policy

MPH (epi) or MSPH (epi.) etc. and then a PhD in epidemiology (as I was told that most public health PhD programs want a public health discipline masters' degree or a professional degree in a related discipline)

MD/MPH and then going on to a DrPh in health policy or epidemiology

PA/MPH and then PhD or DrPh in epidemiology

Any thoughts?
 

behealthy

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What are your end goals? I went to high school in Millbrook ;)
 
OP
V
Jul 28, 2009
117
0
Gold Coast of CT --> Poughkeepsie NY --> ????
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I would really like to be a professor at a graduate or professional school. Unfortunately, making full professor is tough. I would probably settle for a solid combo of non-academic work and some research and teaching on the side. I think the JD/MPH would be the easiest combo to do in terms of practicality and whatnot.

Haha, good to hear that people survive the Poughkeepsie area.
 

behealthy

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I think being a professor is too vague. Do you enjoy research, or teaching? If you enjoy research, then study the subject you enjoy. If teaching, I don't have advise.
 

xscpx

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Ok...first thing first, figure out at least what general subject you are interested in. Health policy and epi are TOTALLY different. You can figure out degrees after you figure out your interests.

What in the world would you want a JD or MD for if you intend on teaching? I think you need to do a little research first on what these degrees entail. Farming degrees because you think they sound good is a waste of time, energy, and money.
 
OP
V
Jul 28, 2009
117
0
Gold Coast of CT --> Poughkeepsie NY --> ????
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Part of the problem is that I can't really narrow it down, even with the reading I've done (ranging from epi and PH textbooks, articles in the various disciplines). My thought is that I wouldn't want to be a clinician/practitioner whether in law or medicine, except as a backup option, and as an additional credential – it's been intimated to me that to advance in PH as a field (maybe make my mark in government work?) it's good to have an MD, or if not an MD, a clinical or professional degree (PA or RN degree, or a JD for the policy side). Is this horribly incorrect?

Might anyone have any suggestions as to what, say, infectious disease epidemiology (it's the specialty I've been reading about a lot lately) would entail as a researcher?
 

Stories

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I'm an undergrad at a northeastern liberal arts college looking into public health work in combination with another degree. I'm not certain as to whether I'd like to go into a clinical health field or work on the policy side. However, I am working on the medical or physician assistant prerequisites so I will have some of the basic science background. I'm currently doing an internship at my local health department, mostly working on epidemiology and surveillance. From my experience, I've found both epidemiology and policy rewarding, but without the formal academic work in either, it's tough to decide.

Regarding degrees, I was considering:

JD/MPH and then doing a PhD in health policy

MPH (epi) or MSPH (epi.) etc. and then a PhD in epidemiology (as I was told that most public health PhD programs want a public health discipline masters' degree or a professional degree in a related discipline)

MD/MPH and then going on to a DrPh in health policy or epidemiology

PA/MPH and then PhD or DrPh in epidemiology

Any thoughts?
I can tell you about the bolded path if you want. Yes, that will be the path you need to take unless you're an unbelievable student in undergrad right now.

I do have a question for you, though. What's up with the desire to do two doctoral degrees? In several of your "options" you follow up a doctorate with another doctorate. You really only need one to accomplish everything you've listed in this entire post. Just so you understand time frame:

JD/MPH + PhD = 9 years (not including post-doc training)
MPH + PhD = 7 years (not including post-doc training)
MD/MPH + PhD = 10 years (not including medical residency and fellowship or post-doc training)
PA/MPH + PhD = 8 years (not including post-doc training)

I would really like to be a professor at a graduate or professional school. Unfortunately, making full professor is tough. I would probably settle for a solid combo of non-academic work and some research and teaching on the side. I think the JD/MPH would be the easiest combo to do in terms of practicality and whatnot.

Haha, good to hear that people survive the Poughkeepsie area.
The traditional way to become a professor is do a PhD. It's pretty straight forward. You can become a professor with at a medical school or law school with a MD or JD, respectively, but you'll not have the opportunity to become one until you're well established in your practice of law or medicine. Some folks with a DrPH become professors, but it's far less common. And gaining admission to a DrPH program is something you can't do right out of the gate anyway.

If you want to be professor and that's it, don't even consider doing any of the other MD, JD, or PA stuff because those are all practice-based degrees that will do nothing for your research credentials.
 
OP
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Jul 28, 2009
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Gold Coast of CT --> Poughkeepsie NY --> ????
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Much appreciated, Stories.

My reason for considering doubling up on doctorates is that it was strongly suggested to me that an MD/MPH gives you more options in terms of being able to work at, say, the CDC (for example, all of the directors of the CDC have been MDs since 1953, and most have had an MPH or PhD in addition) or doing work as part of the USPHS.

As far as a career path, I'd like to do a couple of years in public service work – USPHS or some sort of uniformed service, preferably, at some point. Is that possible?
 
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Stories

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Much appreciated, Stories.

My reason for considering doubling up on doctorates is that it was strongly suggested to me that an MD/MPH gives you more options in terms of being able to work at, say, the CDC (for example, all of the directors of the CDC have been MDs since 1953, and most have had an MPH or PhD in addition) or doing work as part of the USPHS.

As far as a career path, I'd like to do a couple of years in public service work – USPHS or some sort of uniformed service, preferably, at some point. Is that possible?
Well, most people who end up working in USPHS come from medical backgrounds and end up doing public health down the line after being in medicine (as are a large number of folks who are MD/MPH).

Depending on what kind of position you want to work with in the federal government, you'll have to decide which degree is right for you. If you want to be a director of something, generally those are appointed as directors from other big health firms (and generally are MDs simply because boards of hospitals and health firms are filled with MDs). The role of the scientist is almost strictly PhDs, though (as it should be since the PhD is a research degree). If you want to be a senior scientist or research at the CDC/NIH/NCI/etc. then the PhD is the way to go. If you want to be in administration at those agencies, then the MD is the way to go.

Each degree opens up different doors, not the same ones. At the same time, while doctoral degrees open the higher level positions, it closes off a lot of lower level options. Job quality increases, but quantity of jobs decrease. Keep that in mind.
 

jkmph

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Much appreciated, Stories.

My reason for considering doubling up on doctorates is that it was strongly suggested to me that an MD/MPH gives you more options in terms of being able to work at, say, the CDC (for example, all of the directors of the CDC have been MDs since 1953, and most have had an MPH or PhD in addition) or doing work as part of the USPHS.

As far as a career path, I'd like to do a couple of years in public service work – USPHS or some sort of uniformed service, preferably, at some point. Is that possible?
To answer your USPHS question - yes. Google the website and do some research, it's a pretty cool branch of the military. I worked with a USPHS PhD/MPH this summer and he loved it.

Stories is right with what he bolded. All of these paths lead through an MPH. One or two years of public health education and perhaps a few years of working in the field of public health will help guide your further education.

In an SPH school you will meet many professors who have taken various paths to get to their current position. They will all have different suggestions and great advice, but the only way to get that level of exposure is to get yourself in an MPH program ASAP.
 
OP
V
Jul 28, 2009
117
0
Gold Coast of CT --> Poughkeepsie NY --> ????
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
It seems that starting off with an MPH or MS or MSPH (the last two at JHU or one of the schools that doesn't offer an MPH to non-doctoral professionals, IIRC) is the way to go for public health.

Thanks!

Just one quick question, if anyone has a moment – the SPHs are pretty vague on requirements and courses to go into epidemiology. Of the textbooks I've read (the main one being http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416040021/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=304485901&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0721603262&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0X9TZW58AYWHXJT0K0G8), it doesn't seem like intro level epidemiology requires much more than intro stats and maybe intro calc. To get into the higher level work, what sort of courses would you suggest? Biology, multivariable calculus?
 

behealthy

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Just to set the record straight: you can be a prof in a medical school with a Ph.D. I know 3 of them ;) Don't do an MD unless you want clinical stuff, it's far too much work to get in, survive, and get licensed.
 

jkmph

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Just one quick question, if anyone has a moment – the SPHs are pretty vague on requirements and courses to go into epidemiology. Of the textbooks I've read (the main one being http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416040021/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=304485901&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0721603262&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0X9TZW58AYWHXJT0K0G8), it doesn't seem like intro level epidemiology requires much more than intro stats and maybe intro calc. To get into the higher level work, what sort of courses would you suggest? Biology, multivariable calculus?
I'm Epi MPH at Emory and my math background is pre-calc and calc 1 at my undergraduate institution. Having a stronger math background certainly isn't going to hurt you but it's far from mandatory. The majority of complicated statistical analysis is completed by biostaticians and bioinformaticians. Any research an epidemiologist is doing is going to be in conjunction with biostats professionals or epi methods specialist. I wouldn't sweat it.

Take classes you find interesting and don't worry about specifics. There are people in my Epi classes with social sciences, biological and physical sciences, journalism, new media, etc backgrounds.
 

Stories

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I'm Epi MPH at Emory and my math background is pre-calc and calc 1 at my undergraduate institution. Having a stronger math background certainly isn't going to hurt you but it's far from mandatory. The majority of complicated statistical analysis is completed by biostaticians and bioinformaticians. Any research an epidemiologist is doing is going to be in conjunction with biostats professionals or epi methods specialist. I wouldn't sweat it.

Take classes you find interesting and don't worry about specifics. There are people in my Epi classes with social sciences, biological and physical sciences, journalism, new media, etc backgrounds.
The math requirements for PhD admission will generally be completed as a epi major during your MPH, as well.