Student Rep Report: Introduction and Reflections (05.02.18)

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The term “public health” still seems to be somewhat of an enigma to some people. I am sure we have all been asked at least once “Public Health! Interesting! What is that exactly?” It can be exasperating at times, but it comes with the package of studying a relatively new science. I worked as a dentist for almost 10 years in different settings. I worked with patients in rural areas in Egypt, school children in Libya, taught university students with the constant thought of how the health of the population could be improved. In dentistry, Public Health is not the most common career choice nor the most obvious. Dental Public Health was an aspect of dentistry that was and still is a budding science. During my time at university, it was simply a small chapter of preventative dentistry.

I looked into many MPH programs, but it was always a lifelong dream to attend University of Birmingham to walk the same halls my father did. I was ecstatic when I saw the breakdown of the modules. It was a perfect fit. I thought I had a good grasp of Public Health and what to expect, only to find out with each module I took, how far it could reach, giving me new meaning to the word multidisciplinary. Taking on the MPH with 3 young children was always going to be a monumental task but with all the hard work, sweat, caffeine and sheer determination, it can be done especially with the support and help that is available to students.

So, equipped with coffee, I started the first module-Epidemiology, Statistics and Research Methods and Oh Boy! I didn’t think a human brain was capable of processing and retaining so much information. I met new people from different walks of life, all in the same boat as me. We learnt from each other, our experiences and insightful questions all added to the learning experience. Next was Public health in low and middle-income countries, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it hit close to home. Practical Epi and Stats was a consolidation of ESRM and Health information and informatics was completely new and exciting. Systematic reviews was well “systematic” further fortifying our research techniques.  By the end of the year, I had 5 modules done and I was doing it part time! (I have to toot my own horn when I say I have taken multi-tasking to a whole new level!)

Hearing why everyone is doing this, it seems that taking lead on how to make things better is a public health professional’s driving force, we all want to save the world in one way or another and preferably get paid doing it. It has been a pleasure being student rep for my colleagues and knowing that I might benefit current and future MPH students. This academic year is rushing by and the common sentiment is we can’t believe it will end soon.

So, here’s to our second term! Bring it on!


Written by Manal Mantough, Senior MPH Student Rep 

Author: Claire

PhD Student, International Public Health


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