Studying Public Health online - Sophia's story

Sophia Kohler is from Germany and graduated from Public Health by distance learning. She tells us how she enjoyed studying a unique programme with a diverse range of modules on offer for students to select.
Sophia Kohler

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background  

I was working as a secondary teacher (maths and biology) in Germany and Switzerland for many years. In a secondary school in Zurich, I had the chance to establish a health promotion programme over three years and completed a further training as a contact teacher for health promotion and prevention. 

Why did you choose to study your course at LSHTM?  

The reason why I chose to study at LSHTM was on the one hand the fantastic reputation and on the other hand the diverse spectrum of modules to select from. Public Health at LSHTM is definitely very diverse, you can choose from many different modules, select streams and even choose modules from other courses (e.g. Epidemiology or Infectious Diseases). I did not find anything similar in my home country in Germany. 

What were your favourite aspects of the programme?

I loved being connected to health professionals from all over the world and to further develop my research skills, especially during the project report. My favourite modules were Health Promotion, Bacterial Infections and definitely the Project Report. 

How has the programme helped you in your career  

For my personal and professional development, it has helped a lot in order to pursue a public health focus. However, I must admit that in Germany, especially in rural areas and local public health offices, LSHTM's reputation is not necessarily known and the degree was not a benefit to my CV compared to other master's.

I loved being connected to health professionals from all over the world and to further develop my research skills, especially during the project report. 

What have you been doing since graduation?  

During my studies I was already working at the German Bone Marrow Donor Registry (DKMS) and at a local public health office in Southern Germany where I had the chance to establish projects within health promotion and prevention and health planning. After graduating I returned to DKMS Registry where I am currently working in the field of onco-haematology, being responsible for the coordination of stem cell transplantations for patients worldwide, mainly for Indian hospitals. 

What skills did you gain from studying this programme? 

Before studying at LSHTM, I had no scientific experience and I think the Public Health course and especially the project module is a great introduction to scientific work where you are guided step-by-step through the whole process of creating your own project report. 

Additionally, thanks to the different modules, we learnt a lot of different measures to further develop public health in our field of expertise and to be able to combine different aspects (interdisciplinarity). 

Were you able to connect/network with other students? How did you do this? 

Thanks to the online learning platform, Moodle, we had the chance to interact with each other. The Project Report was the first time that I really felt like being part of the School due to the very helpful and interesting discussion and exchange with PMOs, my supervisor, the mentors and other students. I am now an alumni mentor for the Project Report module and an alumni ambassador and I am more than happy to support future and current students during their studies. 

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

Do not hesitate to ask current students and alumni in order to assess the benefit of the programme for your own career and always remember, there are no silly questions despite the ones that are not asked. 

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

I loved being connected to health professionals from all over the world and to further develop my research skills. In order to overcome the challenge of distance learning, proactively connect with other students via Moodle or other platforms. This will definitely further improve your experience at LSHTM.