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Piyali Sarkar

Piyali Sarkar completed her Master's in Public Health at Warwick in 2020. We caught up with her to find out what she thought of the course and her advice for applicants.

Why did you decide to study Public Health?

During my clinical practice from 2015-2019, I realised that it is a great initiative if I get an opportunity to work towards the prevention of diseases rather than just treating them. Since public health is a multidisciplinary subject, I decided to pursue my masters in this subject as it would give me an in-depth understanding in all the areas of public health and I am glad it did. Also the subject of Public Health Dentistry in the third year of my dental school caught my eye and I found it really satisfying to go on various field trips and create awareness about general as well as oral health, thereby reaching out to the common man as amicably as possible.

What made you choose the University of Warwick?

I chose University of Warwick because of its rich diversity. I guess it has been one of the best platforms to have connected with so many people from various backgrounds and countries, which made me grow into a better individual. Secondly, I was really fascinated by the MPH module structure, as it has variety of interesting topics to delve into and the course was quite flexible which allowed me to plan my timetable smoothly. Lastly, I cannot stress its ranking enough and I am glad that MPH at Warwick has been ranked 16th in the world (2019).

What has been your favourite part of the course? Did you have any favourite modules?

It is very difficult to choose anything specific, as the entire academic year was full of growth and learning. But my favourite part of the course was the interactive sessions and group projects, which allowed me to interact with the participants very freely and understand their point of views. Apart from this, I really appreciated how approachable the entire faculty was, even during these dire times. They worked so hard to make the subject stress-free and refreshing. I also liked the weekly ‘Mindfulness’ sessions which were held on Microsoft Teams in order to keep all the students motivated and energised.

I wish I had the chance to take up all the modules as each one of them seemed to be unique in their own way. But given a choice, I really enjoyed the modules on ‘Health improvement & management for public health’, ‘Social Determinants of health’ and ‘Mental health’.

Were there any challenges?

This was my first international venture ever and I believe absence of challenges would have made my journey very boring. Initially, I was quite overwhelmed with the environment and culture, but I cannot thank Wendy and Andrew enough for supporting me in every way possible. I would also be doing a great injustice if I don’t mention the non-academic staff who indeed made my life much easier.

Regarding the course, I feel the study and the assessment pattern was a big challenge for me as I was not accustomed with the visual and research-oriented learning. But as I look back now, I feel I have learnt the most out of it. And the most important thing is despite all the challenges, this journey has made me self-sufficient.

What skills do you think you’ve developed during the course?

I have certainly developed many skills during the course. Starting from the basic skills like communication, presentation and IT skills to public health skills like social media marketing in public health, evaluation of a public health issue, health needs assessment, critical writing etc. have been the most important skills I have cultivated. I was also impressed by ‘MyAdvantage’, as their workshops (especially academic writing, critical thinking and organising your time) were of huge help.

How do you think the MPH will benefit you in your career moving forwards?

MPH is a vast subject comprising of different spheres and I believe having a master’s degree in this field will open my path and allow me to analyse all the issues related to human health so that I can work towards the shortcomings. Based on my interests, I believe the degree would allow me to work as a health promotion specialist as well as a public health consultant. Having this degree and coming from a dental background has allowed me to relate the oral health issues as one of the major neglected and economic burdens all over the world.

What are you planning to do next?

Pursuing an MPH made me fall in love with the subject and I wish to pursue a PhD and get associated with an esteemed organisation in future. I am more interested in the fields of either infectious disease epidemiology or health promotion. However, currently I am looking for opportunities to work as a research assistant.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying Public Health at Warwick?

Pursuing MPH from Warwick has proved to be one of the most enriching experiences ever, as Warwick Medical School is one of the best schools and is full of resources. I am sure prospective students will fall in love with the campus and the people around here. The different societies at Warwick are also a once in a lifetime opportunity to get involved with. But the main advice would be to take up the module ‘Understanding Research and Critical Appraisal in Healthcare’ in order to know the beauty of research and I am sure it would serve as a launch pad for the remaining modules. I would also like to advise the students to have some basic idea on statistics, as the first term might get a bit challenging for those who have not had a quantitative background. Other important advice would be to choose the modules based on one’s interest, as it might look hard to choose in the beginning.

International students might find it quite overwhelming initially, but I strongly advise them to seek help whenever they require, and I can assure they won’t be disappointed. Last but not least, all I want to say is to work hard and have patience.

I wish all the prospective students the very best in their future endeavours. I am sure they will have their best times at Warwick, just the way I did.