My interest has always been in global public health and disaster response. The Oxford MSc in Global Health Sciences was therefore a great introduction to the public health training scheme for me. The flexibility of the training scheme meant that, as well as undertaking local placements (at a Primary Care Trust, the community engagement team of Oxfordshire County Council, and the local health protection unit), I could work in health protection and public health disaster preparedness at a national level and overseas. My placement with the Extreme Events team and the London chemical hazards team of Public Health England was a ‘National Treasure’ placement. These placements allow trainees from all over the country to undertake approved placements outside of their Deanery. It was good exposure to health protection work and we collaborated with the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
My academic placement involved 3 months at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, working on research and policy for humanitarian response to natural disasters. I also undertook a Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy ‘Improving Global Health through Leadership Development’ fellowship, which involved 6 months as a public health registrar in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It was great to see how other countries do public health, allowing me a different perspective on the problems we face in public health in the UK. Having dedicated support to develop my leadership skills was also a good development opportunity.
My final year of the training scheme was spent working in the public health department of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in London. This was where I had long wanted to be, so it was a dream come true to get the placement. Again I gained national and international experience of public health and learnt a lot about epidemiology, politics, advocacy and Ebola! When I finished the training scheme I remained with MSF, as their first ‘public health specialist’, and hope to be here for years to come.