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Osteopathic Medicine and Public Health

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by TexasDOboi, Mar 31, 2002.

  1. TexasDOboi

    TexasDOboi Junior Member

    Mar 27, 2002
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    I have a general question for folks who earned a MPH degree before entering medical school, or those who plan on pursuing a MPH in the midst of their medical studies...

    How do you plan on using your public health degree after you finish med school? In addition to becoming a clinician, I'm interested in areas such as health policy and epidemiology. However, since only 6% of physicians in the US are D.O.'s, I imagine very few of them have a MPH degree as well. Although the osteopathic philosophy seems to mesh well with public health, I'm having difficulty finding D.O.'s in these areas. Have any of you done research/policy internships in the Public Health arena or come across D.O.'s in the public health field?

    Also, my medical school, TCOM, offers a dual DO/MPH degree, the latter through UNTHSC. You can do this in 4 years, but I'm leaning towards the 5 year option, where I take a year-long break between my 2nd and 3rd year of med school, essentially a 'MPH year', to earn my masters. Have any of you done this? If so, did taking a break between the 2nd and 3rd year of med school make jumping into clinical rotations difficult?


    TCOM 2006 :)
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  3. doctor jay

    doctor jay Member
    10+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2000
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    Hey Texas!

    I earned my MPH in International Health at Loma Linda because I intend on spending some portion of my life overseas working mainly in a third world area (most likely knee deep in the HIV/AIDS pandemic of Sub Saharan Africa or SE Asia).

    I earned the MPH separate from Medical Studies (I start 1st year at COMP - was accepted to begin last year, but deferred to run a non-profit for a year - perhaps the most I may use my MPH -the explanation follows).

    LLU is one of thirteen schools nationwide that offers the Int'l Health MPH. I was a little let down by the experience of earning an MPH. In fact, I found that most of what I studied (and paid a ton of $$ on) I either already knew (ie, common sense) or I could have easily gained by researching on my own time. Biostats and Epidemiology may be two MPH majors that actually reward the student with a sense of having earned an MPH, but anything else in the MPH field could seem a little empty.

    Also, I kind of think believe that earning a DO or MD makes the right kind of individual capable of incorporating PH practices and techniques without the MPH. In other words, if you already think in terms of PH (consider that PH deals with groups/populations whereas medicine deals with the individual) ... back to the thought, if you already think in terms of PH and you have earned your medical degree, a little bit of personal research and mindset will be adequate to put you where you need to be to merge the two together. Of course, someone with no clue about PH, who happens to also possess a DO or MD, might benefit from the Master's training.

    I guess you really need to ask yourself what you are hoping to gain, is it worth an extra year and the expense, yada yada yada... One of my classmates at LLU was a 2nd year Med student from Ohio State Univ. She loved the program, but was planning to do missionary medicine and had a bit of a simplistic, overly naive perspective of the world. Plus, she may have just enjoyed the more sedate pace of the Master's program.

    Since the combined program is offered at your school, do some investigating. Contact the professors, ask to see their syllabi and course objectives, question them about the substance of the class and/or program and how you would be better off with your intended field with that degree in conjunction with yours.

    For me, my MPH has earned me a nice little salary and experience during this year off, increased my academic debt by some $30k, will probably waive the public health class during medical school (with my luck, they'll ask me to teach it), and will be a nice set of extra letters after my name on that symbolic white coat I'll hang on the back of my office door while I'm caring for my patients in a couple of years.

    good luck with your endeavors. If you want more gab about this, feel free to shoot me an email- just check my profile.

  4. BB

    BB Junior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2002
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    Doctor Jay said it pretty good. I'll be a first yr. this coming fall, and I'll be 1 class shy of my MPH. I have done by MPH at the University of Kentucky and I also have not been very impressed with the overall PH curriculum. Almost all is common sense on a population basis vs. the individual. My emphasis was on Health management/policy. The management classes have been interesting since I've never had business before, but biostats/epi is really the only emphasis where you will actually feel like you've learned something you can use everyday.

    A positive for the MPH is a thesis/capstone project. It has really helped me see how to do research and then publish it (I didn't have a great deal of research experience as an undergrad). Also, it gives you a few more letters behind your name, but that's about it (of course I am only a soon-to-be 1st yr, so it may be good to get a viewpt. from current residents/practitioners)
  5. Burly B

    Burly B Junior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Dec 10, 2002
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    Hi Texas,
    I know you sent your message out long ago. However, I wanted to let you know I have a MSPH degree. I remain committed to public health, and I know my piblic health background has benefitted me both personally and professionally. To be honest, I do not know exactly how it will "play out" as a future physician. I know it does mesh well with osteopathic medical training when considering prevention and looking at such things as social, environmental, psychological aspects of understanding your patients. I also feel like the epidemilogy training is also useful.

    I have a "late" interview at TCOM next week. I would love to be there in Ft. Worth. If not , I am off to AZCOM. For myself, I am particularly interested in medical issues affecting Texas border towns. I currently live in New Orleans. New Orleans has its own public health issues. I believe my public health training will make me a more complete physician. I am glad I did it. However, it is true. You have to consider the cost.


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