Associate, National Health Accounts Coordinator, Abt Associates
BA/MPH combined degree program, 2007
MPH concentration, Global Health
Tell us about your current job:
For the past 3+ years, I have worked in the International Health Division of Abt Associates Inc., a global research and consulting firm. Most of my work to date has been in the area of health systems strengthening for developing countries, which is essentially trying to help countries identify, design, and implement measures to improve the delivery and impact of health programs and services on a population (vs. individual) level. Within this scope, my focus has been primarily on health financing, or how financial resources are generated, managed, and spent within a country’s health system. Perhaps not surprisingly, the job involves extensive travel; I spend about half of my time in the company’s Bethesda, Maryland office, and the other half abroad, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
What inspired you to pursue an MPH in your area of specialization?
The Global Health Concentration appealed to me because I have always been interested in learning about other cultures around the world, particularly their perceptions of health (what it is, what contributes to health, deteriorates health, etc.), both on an individual level and on a societal level. Health is a complex issue and I knew that I would only get so far trying to figure it out if I looked just through the lens of the American health system. Also, I felt there was an opportunity to have a greater impact if I worked in developing countries with less institutional and political inertia in the health sector than in the United States.
What drew you to the Tufts Program?
As a Tufts undergraduate double-majoring in International Relations and Community Health, I had a great experience with both programs – solid curriculum, top-notch faculty, generally small class sizes – so I already had a positive impression of Tufts academics. When I had the opportunity to apply for the dual degree BA/MPH program it was an easy choice: I was looking for a program with accomplished, accessible faculty, the flexibility to tailor my coursework to fit my interests, and strong career services support. The ability to finish both degrees in five years was a time and cost saver.
How did your Tufts degree help prepare you to work in the field?
The aspects of the Tufts MPH/Global Health program that most immediately come to mind as having helped prepare me for my current job are: 1) international credentials to help move my resume higher on the pile for a job opening in health financing for developing countries; 2) analytical thinking through a systems lens, which has helped me pick up quickly on the concepts of "health systems strengthening," which is a huge part of my work; 3) program design and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) skills, which have made me a prime candidate for specific tasks and activities in this area, such as helping think through a logical framework for how a new project will demonstrate outcomes/impact with respect to stated objectives.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Think about your own personality and learning style when considering different programs. In my view, smaller programs tend to provide a more personalized experience. Talk to your would-be professors when you visit schools to get a feel for what your experience will be like in the classroom. If nobody is available to meet with you that might be an indication of what to expect when you are a student. Look at the curriculum for each program and identify topics/content that you could potentially use to market yourself for a job after graduation.