Finding your way around the global health avenue


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Determining whether you want to do global health is a fairly easy question to answer.

I graduated with a master in global health in 2016 after years of witnessing national and international health issues warranting global concern. Now my interest in it seems never ending. Even after going back to the clinical spectrum of the medical arena, my efforts to draw connections between what I do as a doctor in an organization in a remote area in Pakistan, to the health of the world are constant. My thoughts on how solutions applied in this part of the world might benefit another and vice versa are continuous. I inquire after the history of the area I currently work in and link prevalent health issues of the past and present. In short, to arrive at a more well-rounded picture, I use the global health lens more often now.

To do or not to do

Determining whether you want to do global health is a fairly easy question to answer. If you like discussing issues like refugee health, maternal mortality, child mortality and find yourself indulging in trans-national comparisons, you will enjoy studying global health. The umbrella of this field is pretty wide and the discussions held within it, very interesting and inviting.

While many universities offer Public Health, fewer offer Global/International Health degrees. You can decide on where to go based on which university ranks better or which schools offer PhDs in your area of interest that you could choose later. You could also decide based on which country you would want to explore while you are a student or which institute has a more international and multicultural environment. Of course, visa and tuition fee have a very decisive role as well.

Quite a few universities in the UK, for instance, Oxford, King’s College, UCL, Glasgow, Southampton, Edinburgh, offer a Global Health degree, but courses are also offered at universities in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, and Switzerland. It might prove useful to look at the following link

https://www.healthcarestudies.com/Masters-Degree/Health-Sciences/Global-Health/Europe/

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What lies next

As simple as it might be to decide whether you would like to study global health, it is as challenging to determine where you belong in it after you have a global health degree. While some feel the need to start utilizing their degree immediately like I did, others might find it helpful to take a break and allow themselves to gravitate towards what interests them the most. Some go back to their old jobs and revisit the global health scenario later when they have figured out what suits best their interest.  

 

A few of the ways you can use your global health degree are:

  1. Get into a Ph.D program and get focussed in a global health aspect such as maternal mortality, disaster management, refugee health etc.
  2. Get into research, as a research assistant perhaps. Universities tend to advertise these jobs on their websites. You can also find these on official search engines like jobs.ac.uk or indeed.uk for jobs in UK. A good way to go about getting alerts regarding such positions is by updating your LinkedIn profile and joining groups where such jobs might be displayed. Alumni groups work very well too. Back in my student days, we were told 70% of jobs are as a result of networking.
  3. Go back to your old job. You might just get a promotion based on an added 2nd tier degree. Do not be discouraged if you do not get to apply what you have learnt in your masters. You will get to apply it in due time. I went back to being a doctor for an organization and then found another job where I might get the chance to my global health knowledge more.
  4. Work in an organization. This is tricky since it depends on your prior qualification. But you can find a number of national and international organizations that will require the assistance of people with diverse backgrounds and disciplines. MSF, ICRC, Save the Children, UNICEF, WHO, Gavi, Marie Stopes, the choices are many and vast. There are many young organizations and forums that might be interested in your services as well, such TWiGH (The Week in Global Health), CFHI (Child Family Health International).
  5. Steer your way into public health sector in your country. Ministries of health usually look for people with a masters in public health or a similar field.
  6. National and governmental health agencies such as ECDC in Sweden and DFID in UK are options worth exploring. Some of these agencies have offices based in other countries which can allow you to explore another country or even go back to your own country provided the agency is based there.

Whatever you do, do not lose hope. While the field may appear nebulous and you might feel confused, a degree in global health might just be that one thing that could help you have all the adventures your career life deserves.

 

Sarah Khalid Khan Sarah Khalid Khan is a medical doctor from Pakistan and a news writer at GHNGN. Her interest is in global health, writing articles on health issues that merit global concern.  

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