Studying Epidemiology online - Anum's story

Anum, from Pakistan and living in the Netherlands, enjoys the flexibility of distance learning as a new mum. She tells us how the programme has helped her set up research projects for her children's healthcare foundation in Pakistan, the AMAYA Initiative.
Anum Zahra

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background  

I am a medical doctor from Pakistan currently living in the Netherlands. I started at LSHTM in September 2017. 

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM?  

I chose MSc Epidemiology at LSHTM because coming to a new country, I found it very difficult to get admission into a good master's programme due to differences in study elements of my medical degree from Pakistan. I heard great things about the quality of education and the value of the degree at LSHTM. 

What has been your favourite aspect of the programme?

My favorite aspect of the course is its flexibility because as a new mother, it has enabled me to study part-time and at a pace which suits me. 

The programme has helped improve my scientific writing and my ability to critically read and judge the quality of scientific evidence presented in research articles. 

How has the programme helped you in your career?

I am the founder of the AMAYA Initiative, a children's healthcare foundation working in Pakistan. This master's has given me an essential foundation in practical epidemiology which has enabled me to collaborate and set up research projects in Pakistan. 

What skills have you gained from studying this programme?  

This course has helped me in developing a deeper understanding of practical epidemiology and performing data analysis. Furthermore, the programme has helped improve my scientific writing and my ability to critically read and judge the quality of scientific evidence presented in research articles. 

Have you been able to connect/network with other students? How have you done this?  

I have been able to get in touch with many students through the LSHTM distance learning WhatsApp and Facebook groups. 

What are your plans for after you complete your studies?  
After my master's, I wish to obtain a job in the Netherlands and at the same time, continue my outreach work in Pakistan. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course at LSHTM?  
Consider the unique positives of this course, but also prepare for a comparatively solitary study experience as interaction with other students is limited. 

Please sum up your experience of studying by distance learning with LSHTM

My experience at LSHTM has been extremely positive. Coming from a different study system in Pakistan (non-digital mode of education) it took me some time to get adjusted to the Moodle platform and to navigate through the extensive maze of information. Furthermore, the lack of contact with other students has made this time somewhat lonely. I sometimes found the reading study material online (CAL), not enough and so listening to the lectures (especially for statistics) has been extremely helpful. 

Tell us a bit about you – what do you do when you’re not working or studying? 

One of my huge passions is Art. I have founded Art by Anum which, in collaboration with the AMAYA initiative, helps raise money for the outreach projects in Pakistan. I like to paint beautiful scientific artwork on themes of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and medicine. I have made several custom artworks for PhD covers and hospitals.