Several pre-meds applying to medical school have asked me whether or not they should apply to combined MD and Master of Public Health (MPH) programs—or at least consider pursuing an MPH in the future.
For anyone unfamiliar with my background, I obtained my MPH at Yale during my 3-year gap between college and medical school. This was a 2-year program, and my specialty “track” was Chronic Disease Epidemiology. I chose this track based on my interests in public health, which arose from my work volunteering in free clinics as an undergrad. During that time, I developed a strong interest in chronic disease prevention and clinical research.
I believe the MPH has really engrained in me a robust perspective in considering chronic disease management and allowed me to approach treatment differently from those who were only trained in medicine alone. Additionally, the MPH provided me a very substantial background in research methods, as all curriculums require you to take epidemiology and biostatistics classes. This was very useful during medical school for my research projects as far as opening up research opportunities and allowing me to run my own data analyses, which would speed up the process.
I think pursuing a MPH is certainly worth it if you have specific interests in public health or are interested in clinical research. Other common public health interests include health policy, environmental health, healthcare management, infectious diseases, global health, healthcare innovation, and more. If you are passionate about any of these things or about impacting health on a larger scale/population-level, consider getting your Master of Public Health! It will not only provide more opportunities to pursue your healthcare passions, but also allow you more experiences outside of the clinic walls.
Read more by Alex.