arc5005

7+ Year Member
Oct 5, 2011
1,010
426
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I'm having trouble deciding on a specialty for the MPH programs and I want to apply for next Fall 2015.

I'm trying to decide between Epidemiology, Environmental Health, & MCH.

I'm just curious how others have decided to choose their specialty.
1) Was it job prospects and/or money influenced?
2) Life experience such as Peace corps or past career?
3) Was it influenced on your academic background?
4) And what are your career goals once you get your MPH?
5) Will you use it as a terminal degree? PhD? Med school or other programs?

I guess, to say a little about my background: I have a BS in Environmental Science, and I'm currently taking my pre-med requirements. I'm taking the GRE this January. and I'm taking the MCAT in summer 2015. I've been interested in public health for awhile, and I took Epidemiology, Public Health Lifestyles, and Parasitology during my undergraduate education. I have a strong Environmental science/EHS background, and also now completing Anatomy, Physiology, Organic Chemistry, and some psychology courses. I'm hoping to get my MPH and then go into medical school. I'm currently most interested in working in Pediatrics (peds) or Psychiatry (child & adolescent psychiatry). I guess the reason I'm unsure which specialty to go is, because all 3 would be helpful as MD looking to get a residency working in Peds.

But I'd like to hear why others have chosen their specialty please.
 
Aug 20, 2014
649
379
Chicago, IL
Status
Non-Student
I'm planning on getting my MPH (also applying for Fall 2015) in Epidemiology/Global Epidemiology.

1) Was it job prospects and/or money influenced? I'd say job prospects did play a role in this decision, but it is not the main factor for me.
2) Life experience such as Peace corps or past career? Life experiences have influenced me a bit, especially towards the global aspects of epidemiology.
3) Was it influenced on your academic background? My academic background is probably the biggest influence here. I have my BS in Animal Science with minors in Biology and Chemistry, so I have a very scientific/quantitative background. A lot of my coursework involved infectious diseases, so I really began to develop an interest in Infectious Disease Epidemiology/Control.
4) And what are your career goals once you get your MPH? I would love to do work with the WHO and the CDC at points in my career. I'd be happy if my career resulted in either hospital or governmental work, though.
5) Will you use it as a terminal degree? PhD? Med school or other programs? I'm undecided at this point. I plan on getting my MPH and then determining what else, if anything, I will need to satisfy my own career goals. I have thought about Med school, but at this point I think if anything my MPH will either be terminal or I'll get my PhD or DrPH (leaning towards DrPH as I'm not very interested in academia).
 
Feb 25, 2014
45
11
I'm doing an MS in epidemiology. I'm interested in health disparities and health literacy so community health or health behavior were strong possibilities for me. If I hadn't chosen epi, I was probably most interested in environmental and occupational health, but didn't think I had enough science coursework to qualify for those programs.

1) Was it job prospects and/or money influenced? 2) Life experience such as Peace corps or past career? Somewhat. I used to coordinate research and my choice to go into public health-- as opposed to moving up in healthcare or research some other way-- was influenced by the kind of expertise I saw was needed in my work. I worked with lots of new researchers who needed help designing an effective study, making the best use of their data, and identifying the best sources of information for their research. I like doing that, so epi was a logical choice. I'm lucky in that it's also marketable.

3) Was it influenced on your academic background? Yes. I studied history so I knew I wasn't going to get into something like EOHS or biostats without a lot of extra preparation. I was most qualified for epi based on my work experience. Also, studying history made me a good writer. That's considered really valuable in a technical field where professionals are not always good at communicating with laypeople.

4) And what are your career goals once you get your MPH? I'd like to do methodology/study design consulting in a hospital or university research center, and epi was probably the most quantitative and methods-based concentration I could get into. As the US funding situation gets more competitive, I believe more institutions are going to want a strong methodology core rather than just trust their MDs to be competitive in areas like study design where they may not have a lot of training.

Medicine can be so hierarchical it impedes work-- even among people who liked me and probably saw themselves as my mentors, I would see the same quality and importance of work treated differently depending on the person's degree. Often my coworker would turn in better work than MDs on her studies, be running the whole thing, and still maybe not get invited to meetings. If you want to stay in medicine, and are choosing between two programs you like equally, you should pick the one that will sound more prestigious or technical to people in medicine. As a woman with a history degree, I wanted the most technical program I could get into so my contributions couldn't be dismissed that way anymore.


5) Will you use it as a terminal degree? PhD? Med school or other programs? I'm leaning maybe 70/30 towards getting a PhD, because most people I know of who work in the career track I like have a PhD. The others have an MS, which is why I chose it over MPH.
 
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Jan 25, 2014
180
71
Atlanta, GA
A little about me:
Undergrad: B.A. in Sociology
MPH: Majoring in International Health Programs w/ a certificate in Maternal and Child Health
Past Experience: Three years of professional experience in fundraising, event planning, development, and communications for nonprofit health brands

When choosing a program, keep in mind that you're able to take coursework in a specific area, with many public health programs offering the option to obtain certificates in specific areas, i.e. Maternal and Child Health, Monitoring and Evaluation, etc. Based on your public health interests, I think an MPH in Global Epidemiology would be your best bet, and supplement that with a certificate in Maternal and Child Health. In terms of programs, I think Emory might be a great option for you because of its proximity to the CDC and humanitarian organizations that focus on child health like CARE.

1) Was it job prospects and/or money influenced? In general, public health is a growing field with an exponentially increasing demand for public health workers; in all capacities, research, program design, health education, et. cetera. Personally for me it is important to make an income that is sustainable to live comfortably and raise a family, however I also understand that being a public health professional will not enable me to become a multi-millionaire anytime soon; so I would say that money was not an influential factor in returning to school to get my MPH.

2) Life experience such as Peace corps or past career? Definitely my past medical challenges, international travel and exposure to other populations have had a large impact in my career decision. Before returning to school this year, I worked in the nonprofit health world, mainly in a fundraising and development role. Seeing other aspects of the organization that focused more on health promotion and health education, and further educating myself on the issues faced by developing nations played a vital role in my decision to choose my specific concentration.

3) Was it influenced on your academic background? To a degree, I'd say so. I switched majors halfway through undergrad from International Finance and Marketing to Sociology. The curricula of my program and in the courses I took introduced me to issues that were foreign to me. The material definitely instilled a greater passion within me.

4) And what are your career goals once you get your MPH? Upon completion of my MPH program, I would like to work either for an international health organization as a Program Manager, or for a for-profit consulting agency that has a departmental focus on global health and international development, i.e. Global Health Strategies or Rabin Martin. Eventually, I'd like to branch off and develop my own consulting agency, and work independently with the USAID, World Bank, international health and development organizations, NGOS, and private foundations like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

5) Will you use it as a terminal degree? PhD? Med school or other programs? At this point of my time, I'm still undecided. Initially, I was set on doing a dual degree program, enabling myself to obtain both an MBA and MPH in one shot. Since I am interested in management consulting, I will say that my decision will depend much on my ability to work within that industry. I have no plans of returning to get my Ph. D, because I have no interest in pursuing any academic or research-related roles in the public health sector.
 
Jan 27, 2014
155
62
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Background: University of Michigan Business School undergrad, 2009. Worked for a over a year in healthcare consulting and then 4 yrs in strategy at a large teaching hospital
Now: Berkeley MPH, Health policy and management

1) Was it job prospects and/or money influenced?

Both. You can't climb up the healthcare management ladder unless you have a masters. Also, I'm interested in health tech start ups so I knew the only place for me with that interest is the bay area, hence, berkeley. Also, money was a huge factor. Even though saved up quite a bit of money, I wanted to get full funding for the program. I'm 27 and plan on getting married/buying a house relatively soon so being in debt is not an option. I got a 20k scholarship from Berkeley and I found an opportunity to GSI (which waives tuition).

2) Life experience such as Peace corps or past career?
see background

3) Was it influenced on your academic background?
Yes. I have a business background. I'm interested in efficiency, and creating innovative sustainable delivery models. Unlike most people in public health, I do not have a science background.

4) And what are your career goals once you get your MPH?
Either work as a manager/director on a large hospital or work at a health startup

5) Will you use it as a terminal degree? PhD? Med school or other programs?
MPH is my terminal degree
 
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