Since 2005, JPGSPH has been facilitating its Master of Public Health (MPH) programme with the aim to develop public health leaders of the future. The School offers a global classroom of learners with diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds with 476 graduates to date from across 26 countries. Charu Chhetri is one such learner from Nepal, who is part of the current and 12th batch. This month, #VitalSigns brings you an exclusive look at the MPH through the eyes of an international student.
#VitalSigns (VS): Hi Charu! Tell us a little about yourself.
Charu Chhetri (CC): Hi! I am Charu from Kathmandu, and I completed my MBBS from Universal College of Medical Science in Bhairahawa, Nepal.
VS: You mentioned earlier being really excited about getting accepted to JPGSPH’s MPH programme.
CC: Yes! I became interested in getting an MPH when I was working in the Primary Healthcare Centre in Kathmandu as a medical officer. I wasn’t sure whether I would go for an MD since it takes three years to complete. I always wanted to study something that I can use to work for the community. I began preparing to apply to schools abroad when I came across the programme at JPGSPH, and got to know about the WHO-TDR scholarship. A colleague suggested that this scholarship and programme would help open many doors for my career since the WHO recognised JPGSPH as one of the top six schools in the region promoting and practicing innovative higher public health education.
VS: What was your first impression about the programme?
CC: I arrived in Dhaka along with three other students from Nepal. I remember first seeing them when we had to take our BRAC University entrance exams. After spending the first few weeks with the rest of the international students, we became acquainted with the Bangladeshi students.
Later we were taken outside the city to BRAC University’s campus in Savar for our official orientation. There we met faculty members like Dr Alayne Adams who coordinated our Anthropological Approaches to Public Health and Qualitative Research Methods modules.
Senior lecturer on Global Health from Harvard University, Richard Cash (winner of the Prince Mahidol Award) is also one of key course instructors who teaches Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases. The programme has had world-class faculty who have come to teach us from other prestigious Bangladesh-based and international institutions. Being able to engage with instructors who are leaders in their field with multi-country expertise has been an extremely valuable component of this experience.
The level of experiential learning we are exposed to is also remarkable. We were able to visit multiple field sites belonging to the School’s institutional partners – BRAC (the world’s largest NGO!) and its nationwide health programme, and the research and population labs of icddr,b.
VS: Tell me more about the Summative Learning Process (SLP) experience.
CC: The SLP is our final group project, which gives us the chance to apply the full range of public health skills and competencies we have acquired. Each group is assigned a specific and current public health problem to understand and tackle critically. My group and I are working on addressing factors for the rise of C-Sections in Bangladesh. The SLP is extra challenging, because we are also simultaneously taking our other classes, so it is definitely complex and stressful! Group work is not easy, but we are learning to combine our different ideas and support each other as a team.
VS: What do you do when you aren’t doing coursework and working on your SLP?
CC: This year’s batch has become like a family. When we aren’t studying and have some time to spare, we like to explore Dhaka city together, go shopping or eat at different restaurants. A few of our classmates have gotten married this year so we were able to attending their weddings. Besides meeting and learning from people from various backgrounds, and the expertise we are gaining from the programme, I am striving to take in this one-of-a-kind, hands-on MPH experience to the best of my abilities.
To learn more about the MPH programme visit: http://jpgsph.org/index.php/admission-main
This blog was written by Anushka Zafar, a communications and knowledge manager at BRAC School of Public Health.