M.D./M.P.H. program graduates reflect on the positive impact of their training
By Richard Westlund
Illustration by Federico Gastaldi
new study shows that graduates of the Miller School’s M.D./M.P.H. program are taking leadership roles in their residencies, research activities and community initiatives.
“We started our integrated four-year M.D./M.P.H. program in 2011 to address the public health needs of the 21st century, with an emphasis on leadership, research and public health,” said Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., executive dean for education, chair of the Department of Medical Education and professor of medical education and pediatrics. “We launched this study of recent graduates in order to analyze the impact of our program and provide insights for other academic institutions.”
Integrating public health education into a medical curriculum allows students to gain complementary skills, according to Shirin Shafazand, M.D., M.S., professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine and director of the M.D./M.P.H. program.
“Each year we admit approximately 50 students, a quarter of the student body, to our M.D./M.P.H. program,” she said. “Our program is special because students complete both degrees in four years through seamless integration of the curricula, which includes statistics, quality improvement and other public health topics.”
The study was based on a survey sent to M.D./M.P.H. graduates from the Classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 to understand how they have incorporated public health training into their careers. The findings showed that many of the 82 respondents held leadership roles in their early careers: 35 were selected as chief residents; 38 listed other leadership activities held as residents; 12 held leadership positions in specialty-specific organizations; and 10 held other state or national leadership positions. In addition, 57 graduates participated in research projects, and 30 worked with public health initiatives during their residencies.
When asked to describe “the impact of your public health education on your career,” many graduates emphasized a shift in perspective or taking on leadership roles. Said one respondent: “My public health education taught me to better understand why underserved populations have worse health outcomes, which has inspired me to actively work to eliminate this health outcome gap in the way I practice medicine and live my life.”