Studying Global Health Policy online – Andrea's story

Andrea from Italy is studying Global Health Policy online. He is working as a community pharmacist and is also a founding member of Italian global health association,
Andrea Casale

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background 

 I graduated in pharmacy and during my studies, I realised I had a great passion for the subjects of public and global health. I did a thesis on drug-resistant malaria in Cambodia and obtained a postgraduate degree in Global Health at the University of Brescia. I then left for Burundi where I worked for two years with an Italian NGO. I now live and work in Verona as a pharmacist in a community pharmacy in the suburbs. 

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM? 

 Ever since I started taking an interest in global health, people with more experience have always noted LSHTM as one of the best schools ever for the quality of its training. It can be said that studying in this school, albeit at a distance, was a dream for me. First, two of my professors which I met during my academic path were LSTHM Alumni. Then, I started getting further information on the LSHTM website and I decided that the Global Health Policy course was the right one for me. 

What have been your favourite aspects of the programme?

 My favourite modules so far have been "Health Systems" (GHM201) and "Malaria" (IDM503). In general, the modules have all been of great interest to me and the tutors are very active in animating the discussion in the various dedicated Moodle forums. Flexibility is certainly the most important aspect of the programme, at least for me with a full-time job in the pharmacy that I could not and did not want to leave. 

How has the programme helped you in your career?

Regarding my previous experience in Burundi, the course is helping me to understand certain aspects of my work there. It's like seeing my path in retrospect. Regarding my current job in the pharmacy, there don't seem to be many points in common but I'm happy to be able to integrate the "global health" discourse with that of "local pharmacy". It helps you to think big but without losing the connection with everyday reality. More importantly, being one of the founders of an Italian global health association called, surely the notions I am learning are helping me a lot with the implementation and design of our activities. 

In general, the modules have all been of great interest to me and the tutors are very active in animating the discussion in the various dedicated Moodle forums.

What skills have you gained from studying this programme?  

I have deepened many theoretical but very important notions on the key actors, the main dynamics and processes involved in issues related to global health. My critical evaluation on these topics has improved, as well as my academic writing skills.

Have you been able to connect and network with other students?

 Yes, definitely. A lot of WhatsApp groups have been created but my favourite is "The Italians" which allowed me to connect with some Italian students like me and some working students who have already become close friends. Being a pharmacist, I created one to involve fellow pharmacists around the world and in this and there is a great exchange of professional information. 

What are your plans for after you complete your studies?  

 I would like to go back to working full-time in global health. I would gladly have a new experience in the field or stay in Europe.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course at LSHTM? 

 I have already advised those who have asked me about studying at LSHTM - it certainly requires a lot of effort and some sacrifices but it's worth it. For those who have just started, I would recommend studying the modules a little at a time from the beginning of the courses in October, in order to arrive in May so that only one final revision needs to be done. 

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

 As said, my experience is generally positive. Up to now, I have enjoyed all the courses and on the forums, the tutors are very helpful even if I did not have much time to follow all the forums and the activities of all the modules. The main difficulty I encountered is that I work full-time so I only had Saturdays and Sundays to study. In addition, COVID-19 did not allow many recreational and social activities. It has often been tough but when you work for something you really believe in then it's not that tough. 

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

I am a musician and a songwriter. I also released an album in 2014 which was well acclaimed by the Italian print. When I'm not studying, I'm working on the next one.