Melbourne launches intercalated Doctor of Medicine/Master of Public Health

Monday, March 17 saw the launch of the intercalated  Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Public Health (MPH) offered by the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. This program, the first of its kind in Australia, offers medical students the opportunity to undertake the Master of Public Health between the third and fourth years of their medical studies, providing them with the opportunity to be trained and engaged in public health prior to undertaking their advanced medical training.

University of Melbourne Medical School
Study at the University of Melbourne

Rob Moodie, Professor of Public Health at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said at the launch that the intercalated program was established to equip medical students with a thorough grounding in public health and better prepare students to develop as globally minded leaders.

“This program is a response to a real and growing interest in public health among medical students and professionals,” said Professor Moodie.

“Whether these students will continue to work clinically or whether they’ll shift to a career in public health, these students will finish their medical degrees with a greater understanding of national, state and local health systems—greater insights into how to work within these systems, and a greater understanding of how to contribute to these systems to solve public health problems, both in Australia and internationally.

“What I’m keen to see as a result of this program are health clinicians who understand the bigger picture.”

Professor Moodie studied medicine at the Melbourne Medical School before going on to complete his Master of Public Health at Harvard University. His own capacity to see the bigger picture first emerged when he was a young doctor working in refugee camps treating children with preventable diseases. He has gone on to a career in public health advocacy and leadership spanning 35 years. He says his early medical training has played a critical role in preparing him to work effectively in communities across the globe.

Professor Jim Best, Head of the Melbourne Medical School, congratulated the inaugural cohort of students for adding a highly valuable extra year to their MD program.

“This new program will equip students with the technical and leadership skills to face the great medical and public health challenges of this century,” said Professor Best. “Thanks to the generosity of donors to the University of Melbourne, each student will undertake their MPH with the support of a full scholarship.”

Professor Terry Nolan, Head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said that in its first intake the MD/MPH program has been successful in attracting high calibre students who are committed to making a difference in public and global health.

Visopiano Sanyü, one of eight students who form the inaugural cohort of the MD/MPH, moved to Australia from her native Nagaland with her family when she was 6 years old. The move to Australia and her memories of Nagaland have had a profound impact on Ms Sanyü, shaping her ambition to effect positive change in the world as a global health practitioner. Ms Sanyü’s commitment to social justice and global health has been realised through her involvement with REACH (Realising Education and Access in Collaborative Health), a student-driven health initiative that promotes social change. Her work with REACH has seen the launch of Australia’s first student-run clinic, a multidisciplinary, after-hours service which treats clients from refugee and migrant backgrounds in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs.

“Social justice and global health are huge passions of mine. That’s why I chose to study medicine—to work with communities around the world to improve their health through empowerment and sustainable development,” Ms Sanyü says.

Ms Sanyü describes being part of the first cohort of the dual  MD/MPH as an extraordinary privilege—and one that she would not have had the opportunity to pursue had it not been for the generous support provided.

“The scholarship provides so much more than financial assistance,” she says. “It contributes to my well-being by relieving the mental and physical burden of having to support myself during my studies. I’m extremely grateful. ”

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