Studying Public Health online – Karl’s story

Karl is from the Philippines and in his first year studying Public Health by distance learning. He tells us about his experience on the programme, which he studies alongside working as a medical doctor in adult infectious diseases.
Karl Henson

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background 

I am a medical doctor specialising in Adult Infectious Diseases (ID) in the Philippines. While most of my time is spent seeing patients as a clinician, I spend a significant portion of my time as the training officer (program director) of the Infectious Diseases fellowship program and as the Director of the Center which houses both the infection control and antimicrobial stewardship committees of my hospital, The Medical City. I also serve as Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of the Philippines College of Medicine. 

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM?  

As an ID fellow in Detroit, I was already aware of the reputation of LSHTM as a solid research and public health institution. Towards the end of my ID training, I briefly considered applying for an MSc in either LSHTM or Imperial College but decided in the end to come home to the Philippines and start my medical practice. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my interest in public health was rekindled and I finally decided to pursue a Master’s degree. I chose LSHTM for its excellent public health curriculum, flexible distance learning programme, reasonable cost, and reputation. 

What have been your favourite aspects of the programme? 

Finding that balance between studies and work is very challenging. This is especially true in my line of work as an ID consultant in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some weeks can pass by without my having had time to do any studying. However, the flexibility that the programme offers has made it somewhat easier for me to find this balance between my studies, my work and my personal life, even if it sometimes entails very long nights and lost weekends.  

Karl Henson 2

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

While there is adequate support from tutors and other students via Moodle, you must remember that most of the learning will come from your reading and understanding of the course material. What certainly helped me the most was plugging in to a smaller group of students with whom I meet regularly to do practice items or discuss complex topics. The people in my study group, whom I now consider friends, has made the experience richer and has allowed me to feel like a true student. This is helpful especially since studying on your own can sometimes be discouraging or lonely.  

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

Overall, the MSc experience thus far has been tremendously fulfilling. The course materials are mostly top notch, challenging, and readily applicable in my work as an ID clinician and educator. I am confident that this course will mold me to be a better physician, researcher, and educator, and will allow me to be of better service to my country and the global community.