Studying Global Health Policy online - Julian's story

Julian, a physician from Germany, is studying Global Health Policy by Distance Learning while working in Afghanistan as an emergency and critical care MD with Médecins Sans Frontières.
Julian Zedler

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background 

I started studying Global Health Policy in 2018. I’m a physician from Germany working in emergency and critical care. By the time of my application, I had been working at a university hospital for 2 years since graduating. I felt that I needed to educate myself more and embed my medical knowledge in the global context to understand the bigger connections which lead to ill health.

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM? 

LSHTM was well known to me as one of the best public health schools in the world. I started researching and found the distance learning courses. The curriculum and its flexibility fitted perfectly to my needs; I wanted to work and advance in my career while choosing how much or how little time to invest in studying. The decision was also very good from a financial perspective, as I couldn’t afford to live and study for one year in London. Since starting, I have been completing 2 modules per year while working full-time.  

What have been your favourite aspects of the programme?

I have loved every single module. I have learned so much about international aspects of health politics and learned to critically evaluate the current status in global health. Learning about politics, economics, law or sociology is particularly challenging for someone coming from medicine, in which writing long, critical texts and thinking about abstract constructs is not the main focus.

How has the programme helped you in your career and how will it help you in the future?  

Currently I’m working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as an emergency and critical care MD in Afghanistan. Alongside supervising a big team, I’m involved in the implementation of public health programs. I engage in advocacy and have to understand political and economic contexts to best work with the people and resources available. Especially when working with scarce resources and in complex settings, I can already see that my knowledge of the broader context from Global Health Policy is helping me to make sound decisions in the field.

What skills have you gained from studying this programme? 

My critical thinking skills are also often needed in my work and because of the critical confrontation that LSHTM does in the fields of gender-based problems, colonialism and global inequity in access to health, I'm having a much more inclusive and sustainable approach in my work. I want to continue this path and engage more in global health politics in the future. I see myself working in the field for the next few years to better understand needs on the ground while finishing my masters. In the long term, I want to work as a health policy advisor.  

Have you been able to connect with other students? 

I connect with students all over the world mainly via WhatsApp or Facebook. We exchange ideas and points of view in group chats. A lot of help comes from other students via these platforms. The chapter and alumni meetings are also very helpful, enabling you to get connected to other students in your area. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying by distance learning at LSHTM? 

My advice to someone considering studying a distance learning master’s is to see this as a long term investment in yourself! Ask yourself, how self-disciplined are you? It takes a huge amount of discipline to consistently continue studying, but do not be afraid to get engaged. It is highly gratifying. Reflect about how you will be able to combine your work and personal life with studying. The good thing is that you can pause anytime when life becomes too busy and resume at any point in time. 
Even though it is tough sometimes to stick to my study plan, it is a very gratifying endeavour. My knowledge has expanded immensely, and this is the reason I will gladly continue this journey with LSHTM.