Opportunity to develop research skills via the Master of Public Health (Extension)
I am a medical doctor but for the last 5 years, I have worked as a public health officer in Bali, Indonesia. I mostly worked in controlling communicable diseases and preventing outbreaks, but I was also involved in several programs related to non-communicable diseases. As a public health officer, I found that a good understanding of public health is a great help. Therefore I decided to enrol in the Master of Public Health program. I chose UNSW because it offers courses in both communicable and non-communicable diseases. I decided to complete the Master of Public Health (Extension) program because I want to gain experience in conducting research and this allows me to complete a larger project in 6 months. The more involved I am in my work, the more I realise that research is essential in developing public health policies. Furthermore, the MPH (Extension) program will help pave the way to further studies, should I decide to do a PhD in the future.
I have always thought that medical doctors were the centre of health. However, I have now come to realise that other health practitioners also play important roles. This makes me realise that addressing a health issue requires a multi-disciplinary approach and the MPH program teaches us how different actors should collaborate. Not only did I learn the theory of public health but I also had exposure to practical aspects of public health through interacting with other students.
As an international student where English is not my native language, I found that academic life in Australia is challenging. Furthermore, the Australian academic system is different to the system in my country, particularly in relation to requirements in academic writing. Fortunately, this has been anticipated by the school which conducts a special course called ‘Academic Practice’ from which I learned to produce quality academic writing. In addition, there are abundant resources available to help and also very friendly staff who are always ready to assist. As there are a lot of assignments to deal with, time management is absolutely vital.
On studying overseas
Having the opportunity to study overseas is one of the best parts of my life. It allows me to meet new friends from different countries and build international relationships with them. My interaction with health practitioners from other developing countries and emerging economies has helped me make more sense of theories that I have learned. This allows me to better understand how they can be implemented in an economically and socially challenging environment such as Indonesia. Students usually share their experiences and support each other and sometimes we socialise to take a break from our studies. I also learned a lot from the experiences of our lecturers as they share their international experiences, which is great. I also like studying at UNSW because it offers great facilities that support my study.
I would advise new students to be open-minded. New students will certainly discover new things along the journey, but an open-minded attitude will enable them to make the most out of their new experiences. I found that studying public health is very interesting because it is not only about health sectors but also other sectors that influence health. University life is so much fun so you need to enjoy it. Although at the beginning it may seem tough, you will pass it and after that you will get into the rhythm. There is a lot of support provided to help you during your study. Make the most of them, and ask for assistance to make your study life a lot easier.