Taking a year off to get an MPH

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by southerndoc, Jul 12, 2002.

  1. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    I'm thinking of taking a year off between my third and fourth years to get a masters degree in public health (MPH). I'm particularly interested in biostatistics and epidemiology.

    Has anyone already done this? If so, can you please share your experiences?

    If anyone else is planning on doing this, I would appreciate any suggestions. I'm still looking for quality public health schools to apply.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Darth Vader

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    If I were you, I would wait until residency to get your MPH. There are a lot of residency programs out there that integrate your MPH with the residency program, and I think that you either get paid your residency wage while getting your MPH, or you don't have to pay MPH tuition, or you get some sort of a deal for being a resident. I'm not very knowledgeable in the subject, I just have spoken to a few physicians who have participated in these programs before.
     
  4. Femtochemistry

    Femtochemistry Skunk Works

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    How long does it take to get a MPH? Is it a year or two?
     
  5. Dr/\/\om

    Dr/\/\om Senior Member

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    Where I got my MPH it was nearly impossible to get it done in 1 year (45 hrs of coursework). Most people took 2+ to get done, but almost everyone was working full-time.
     
  6. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    Femto, I was looking at a few places that would allow you to do the MPH in one year... Hopkins, UNC, and Harvard.
     
  7. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    At UCSF, we have a combined MD/MPH program with Berkeley. I believe students typically take 5 years. I highly encourage you to pursue an MPH if that is of interest to you.
     
  8. atsai3

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    If you are interested in doing a MD/MPH, then I would suggest that you enroll in a MPH program that is as quantitative as possible. (You mentioned in your post biostatistics and epidemiology -- that's good.) The MPH degree can be a good thing to get, and it can also be an expensive waste of time.

    Good reason to do it during medical school: You can use the MPH to build up your foundation in methods (biostatistics). Hopefully, while you're doing your MPH you can do some research assistant work with one of the faculty.

    Disadvantage of doing it during medical school: You don't really have any clinical experience to speak of, which makes it difficult to focus. Fortunately, you don't really have to focus yet. Just focus on putting together a skill set.

    Good reason to do it after medical school (say, after residency or as part of residency): If you combine it with residency (say, doing a residency in preventive medicine), then you can draw a salary while getting a MPH.

    Disadvantage of doing it during medical school: If you haven't nailed down the methods by now, you will have to spend most of your MPH time learning methods. And if you want to launch into a research career, you would probably do a K-08 or a post-doctoral fellowship to narrow down your research agenda. (If you do the MPH during medical school, then your postdoctoral fellowship will be much more focused and probably more productive.)

    What you don't want to do (and I wholeheartedly admit this reflects my biases) is do an MPH and do a concentration in something like "management" (unless there are MBA-ish elements to it) or "health policy" or "international health" (unless there are really important cultural/travel/research elements to it). If you do biostatistics/epidemiology, you will likely waste your time the least (since you can always take those tools and apply them to any clinical setting in the future, regardless of what clinical direction you choose).

    Cheers
    -a.
     
  9. atsai3

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    The Hopkins MPH program is a full year. The Harvard MPH program is 9 months. This not a trivial point, especially since medical school curricula differ widely in timing.

    (For example, if you end up deciding to do the MPH between 3rd and 4th year -- which many medical students do -- then if you do the Harvard 9-month program, you could take Step 2 and complete a sub-internship/acting internship before it starts in September.)

    Cheers
    -a.
     
  10. Femtochemistry

    Femtochemistry Skunk Works

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    I have another silly question: what exactly is a MPH? What do you do to get it? I was thinking that if i dont get into med school for the 2003 class, i will take a year off working in a lab and now, maybe working on a MPH.
     
  11. atsai3

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    Femtochemistry:

    A MPH is a "Master of Public Health". MPH programs are traditionally 2-year programs, although there are some 1-year programs (and even 9-month programs). Many medical students complete a MPH degree concurrent with their MD degree. For more information on MD/MPH programs, the American Medical Student Association put together a helpful guide here:

    http://www.amsa.org/cph/mdmphguide.cfm

    You might be able to complete a MPH while also working full time, but I would think it unlikely. Furthermore, the MPH may help you diversify your application, but it will not help you up your GPA. (That is, if you got a 3.4 undergrad GPA and a 3.9 MPH GPA, your application will be viewed as a 3.4, not as something in between.) The only Master's programs that will help you up your undergrad GPA are those "Master of Medical Sciences" programs like BU, Georgetown, Harvard, Columbia, CWRU, etc etc etc.

    Cheers,
    -a.
     

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