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Its been nearly three months since the Global Health class of 2019 graduated at the start of June. At least in my opinion, enough time has passed for most of us to start the process of reflecting on our year and what it has meant for us professionally, academically and personally.
Every time I receive an e-mail from a prospective student or end up in a conversation about how I’ve ended up where I am, one question inevitably crops up: “What are you hoping to do with a master’s in Global Health?” Or, “How is it relevant to your career in medicine?”. I must admit I do feel like responding with, “How is it not relevant?”, to the last question. However, I have managed to stop myself on numerous occasions.
Therefore, in a bid to shed some light on what my classmates ended up doing in the immediate aftermath of the master’s I sent out a survey and here’s the result…
What are your general plans now that the MSc is over?
Plans varied and in general there was a focus on:
- finding employment within the same career, but now having the ability to progress in the desired direction due to newly acquired knowledge and credentials gained
- gaining more experience and then embarking on a new career
I was equally pleased and boggled by the plethora of directions graduates were headed in. You could really almost do anything with a MSc in Global Health under your belt it seems. However, there was a clear distinction between those with a clinical background and those without. Those who had were either returning to clinical work and incorporating more research, for example, forging a path in tropical medicine, specialising in community sexual and reproductive health (SRH) or public health (as a clinician) or as a medical escort for Swedes who fall ill abroad and are being repatriated.
For those with less of a clinical background the calling seemed to lay more in the direction of research, advocacy and public health from the academic perspective. What was clear is that most people were adamant that they wanted there to be an international or global aspect to their work from now on.
Another resounding wish, was the desire for some well-earned, “R and R”, that could come in almost any form be that vacation, time with a good book that has nothing to do with studying and to catch up with family, friends and loved ones.
Was the MSc at KI what you’d expected?
Almost two-thirds of those that responded to the survey, wrote that the master’s was not what they had expected. This was a very difficult question to answer and it showed in the array of answers.
I’ll try my best to summarise and tease out the salient points for you. I can say that whether or not the course was what an individual expected, most seemed to have decided attending was worthwhile. Some found the course very intense, somewhat haphazard, others not challenging enough especially when it came to the first semester versus the second. There was a very heavy emphasis on clinical theory, so for those without a clinical background they occasionally felt a bit overwhelmed but appreciated the new knowledge. For the clinicians in the class it was leaning more to the opposite.
The most challenging and therefore rewarding part was the thesis. The final product relied on you and so there was a real sense of achievement, but the influence of the supervisor in the outcome cannot be underestimated either.
The course is nine months long and full-time, which means the days are packed with lectures and it doesn’t leave you with as much private-study time as you might like. But the powers that be do try to incorporate some time for group work and revising for examinations, wherever possible. Also, not to forget the whole course is in English, so for non-native speakers it can be a worthwhile challenge. It’s a real crash-course in all things Global Health and isn’t for the faint hearted.
What was warming to read was the fact that everyone appreciated the new people they met, grew to know and now can call friends.
Will you be remaining in Sweden?
Just over half will be remaining in Sweden. Those that aren’t are returning home and will pursue things from there, keeping moving abroad again a very real option.
Some post-master’s destinations:
- The department of SRH and rights at the Public Health Agency of Sweden
- NGOs focused on SRH, rights and tobacco prevention
- Research assistant at KI
- Research assistant in East Africa followed by a PhD or clinical/research at a university hospital
- International research with organisations similar to the CDC
- Médecine sans Frontières – missions in several countries
- Internships in Denmark with NGOs and WHO
- Publishing the thesis and learning Swedish
- Continuing with clinical work and expanding into other businesses such as hydropower
I’m sure I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! You can basically do anything you put your mind to and with this KI master’s behind you, it rings even truer.
Disclaimer: In today’s world we seem to love to state the obvious so here goes! The views represented here are not those of KI, but of those who completed the KI Global Health MSc in the year 2018-2019 and then responded to my survey.