School of Health Professions and Human Services The Hofstra Health Advocate

Expanding Your Reach: How a Public Health Degree Helped Me Help More People

Being in healthcare can be quite rewarding. Not only are you in a growing and challenging field, you’re able to make a difference, on a personal level, with each one of your patients. Yet, sometimes in healthcare, you see things you want to fix, but just don’t have the wherewithal to effect change as a clinician or health care worker.

“I’m a physician,” says Isma Chaudhry, MD, MPH, Executive in Residence for Hofstra University’s Master and Public Health program. “And for more than forty years I’ve been practicing clinical medicine. I graduated from medical school in Pakistan.  After practicing medicine in Pakistan, I did my post graduate in England and then [practiced in] Pakistan, the United States, and for a very short period of time in the Middle East as well.” 

“But my only experience in the medical field was with academia and the practice of internal medicine, which is not a community-based discipline,” she said “It’s one-on-one. You take care of your patients, or you take care of a bunch of patients. [Either way] the care that you extend is to individuals.” 

Even early in her career, Chaudhry noticed the inequalities in care, but as an internal medicine physician was not able to address them to her satisfaction. “Since I was initially exposed to medicine in a developing country and then moved on to Europe and the United States, I am very aware of the disparities in health care,” she said. “And so public health was something which I was always aware of, but never had the time to get into.” 

Public health is a way to take your medical expertise and make a difference for entire communities. “The field has always inspired me because you deal with population health,” Chaudhry said. “You deal with community health. You see those results, and they are collectively more satisfying, if I may say that. Population health in itself, is a huge field and extremely important. It is an evolving field, it’s a challenging field, and it is something which I think all healthcare providers should look into at some time of their careers.”

This drive to make a difference, in fact, inspires students from all walks of life to attend Hofstra’s Master of Public Health Program.

“We have people who are physicians, and they want to take their academics to another level, and some are lawyers [who are getting their] JD MPH. Students come from working in the field,” Chaudhry said. “A lot of students come in who are administrators in health care systems or are community champions in healthcare systems. [Some] already are CEOs and leaders in their community health programs. They bring in their experience of public health and their expertise in academia, to us and some of the discussions in the classroom. If we would start recording them, we would have volumes and volumes of books on various areas of public health—both global and local concerns.” 

The diversity of academic interests, professional backgrounds, and experiences broadens their horizons  While the connections they make help build a professional network that can lead to more and better opportunities , especially in the New York Metro area where jobs for public health professionals are expected to grow 13.87% through 2028 , according to data from Burning Glass Technologies 2019 .

“We want to connect them with the organizations which aligned with their interest in public health,” says Chaudhry. “That’s a huge success for Hofstra’s Public Health program. Our students are able to work in the area where they’re passionate. We make sure that whether it’s Department of Health or as healthcare project managers or as research assistants, eventually as the students progress through various health care systems, they make connections.” Their passion, network and expertise, says Chaudhry, helps them find jobs after graduation.

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Anthony Porcelli

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