Public health is a field with numerous career possibilities and Global Public Health (known in the field as “Global Health” or “International Health”) is absolutely on the rise. Global Health is the study of Public Health that transcends national boundaries (as opposed to Public Health which is the study of community health  throughout one community or country). For a full definition of Global Health vs. Public Health: http://globalhealth.northwestern.edu/about/what_is.html).

To grab onto the Global Health train, I give you seven methods of kicking down the door of Global Health while learning more about the field and networking like a boss.

#1 Ask yourself, are you interested in Global Health in general or a specific country?

Many people pursue Global Health because of their interest in a specific country (i.e. China) or even a continent (i.e. Asia). By identifying your country of interest, you can find more relevant information about your field of interest. Universities with global tracks (described below in #2) frequently list the countries they do work with. For example, the University of Michigan School of Public Health website cites “major research collaborations in Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, and Malawi” (Source: http://www.sph.umich.edu/epid/programs/international_health.html). Other universities have faculty listings that you can search by country (see university faculty listings in #2).

#2 Look into the universities that have Global Public Health concentrations or coursework

Not all masters are created equal. Many MPH programs have focused “tracks,” or specific concentrations with focused coursework that relates to Global Health. If you are committed to a Global Health focus, you should take a look at the different universities (listed below) that have global tracks in their MPH program to read about upcoming events, publications, and faculty that may interest you.

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#3 Meet the professors who do work in Global Health (i.e. Kicking the door in by meeting the masters)

After finding the universities with Global Health concentrations, your next step is to identify relevant faculty and ask them for informational interviews. Although the prospect may be a bit scary, this is one of the most productive things you can do before you decide on your best MPH degree option. By reaching out and interviewing professors and professionals who work in the field, you can learn more about your interests while developing a network of advocates. These people can point you in the right direction of the type of work you should be doing to prepare for school, the sort of opportunities that would benefit you the most, and suggestions for who you should talk to next. The purpose of an informational interview is for you to learn, and introduce yourself. See 10 Informational Interview Questions that are Awesome.

So how do you find them?

Each university with a Global Health track in their MPH program has a faculty list. This is your opportunity to meet and intrigue the best of the best in your field. Cast a wide net, see who is excited to talk to you. Below is a short list of faculty links from their respective Global Health tracks

#4 Show up at the right conferences (or at least know about them in advance)

There are conferences around the world for everything from quilting to genetics. The opportunities are vast and the cost can be huge. As a result, asking a key informant in your field which conferences are worth your time is a great boon to you. Of course, you can also Google “conference” and the specific part of Global Health you are interested in. Once you have identified a conference, search for a speaker series and program information to find out who can help you move forward in your career. Even if you can’t go to the conference, event websites are a great source of organizational information that you can use to your advantage.

#5 Contact Global Health organizations to learn more

To learn more about Global Health opportunities, reach out to international organizations that work internationally in global health.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) also has a directory of Collaborating Centres around the world which you can search by location and subject (http://apps.who.int/whocc/Search.aspx).
  • If you are interested in work being done in a specific country, here is a list of national Public Health institute (NPHI) that are part of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI). A national Public Health institute (NPHI) is a science-based governmental institution that provides national leadership and expertise for a country’s efforts to protect and improve health: http://www.ianphi.org/whoweare/members/fullmemberlist.html

#6 Get an international internship or volunteer position

After learning about the field of Global Health, you can focus on internships or volunteer work relevant to your interests. An internship in Global Health is a little difficult when you are based in one country and want to study in another country. For a standard issue internship, look into interning at Global Health organizations that are based stateside (i.e. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Here are some links to international internships in the health field:

#7 Stay in the know

The best way to get into Global Health is to jump on the train. Keep abreast of innovations in the field, join mailing lists, continue asking questions. And here’s a pro-tip: Although you can’t register for many university listservs without being a member, their websites are usually chocked full of interesting articles that can help you learn even more about the field. Here are a few of them.