LSHTM student awarded prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship

Clinical Research Nurse and Public Health by Distance Learning student Lloyd has been awarded the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship. He tells us how studying at LSHTM has enhanced his career and where the scholarship will take him next.
Jose Maria Nunag (Lloyd)

When did you start at LSHTM?

I started my LSHTM journey year 2020 while still working as a full-time Research Nurse in one of the biggest NHS Trusts in the UK. I am taking my last few modules and I’m hoping to earn my MSc in Public Health before I start another MSc through the Schwarzman Scholarship in August 2022!

Please could you tell us about your academic and professional background?

I moved to the UK from the Philippines in 2017 where I started working as a Healthcare Assistant. After 3 months, I received my UK professional Nursing registration and worked as a CCU and Cardiovascular CathLab nurse before finding my way to Clinical Research which I love and that’s why I am still here. 

I have been an Advisory Group member of the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) for UHC2030 since December 2019. As an advisory group member, I play a crucial role advocating for meaningful engagement of civil society and communities in health systems strengthening (HSS) for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Through my advocacy efforts at the CSEM and as a health practitioner, I have become a powerful voice for communities that I am representing and that are often left behind in global health. During the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, I have been very vocal and advocated to hold governments accountable for their response to the global health crisis.

I work in clinical research (and the NHS!) because of my passion for good health, science, and bettering medical care. It is a huge motivation for me to know that what I do will contribute to something bigger than myself and eventually improve healthcare and the lives of our patients! My team seeks to promote clinical research across the surgical and oncology departments in our Trust, facilitating innovative and translational research in line with best practice in healthcare. At the core of my role is to make sure that the safety of patients/participants in clinical trials is a priority.

What does it mean to you to be a Schwarzman Scholar?

Schwarzman Scholars is one of the world’s most competitive and prestigious postgraduate leadership programmes. The scholarship is designed to prepare the next generation of global leaders for the challenges of the future. Scholars are selected through a rigorous application process designed to identify leadership potential, intellect, and strength of character. Over 400 candidates from 55 countries were invited to interview and spoke with panels of CEOs, government officials, university presidents, journalists, and non-profit executives, among others. Schwarzman Scholars pursue a one-year Master’s degree in Global Affairs.

I applied with a motivation to probe the dynamic where science, healthcare, and politics interface with global affairs. Above all, I think this opportunity will help to further transform my impact in a way that will benefit the communities I am serving and representing. As a young leader representing more than 28 million nurses worldwide, my engagement will be crucial at a critical juncture in global health when science and public health are being challenged.

I strongly believe that patient advocacy and nursing go far beyond the four corners of the hospital. There is a need for nurses to receive more attention, including through education of policymakers and strengthening collaborations with stakeholders working on health and beyond. This is why outside of work, I enjoy staying active with several leadership positions. I have worked to promote the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) worldwide and was part of the historic United Nations High Level Meeting on UHC.

There is need for nurses to receive more attention, including through education of policymakers and strengthening collaborations with stakeholders working on health and beyond.

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM? 

As a Research Nurse, my interest in development of health policy decisions through research prompted me to study the MSc Public Health. LSHTM consistently ranks highly in various global university league tables and has a strong academic and media presence worldwide. I’m hoping that my MSc will lead me to a better understanding of the disconnection and connection between health, policy, and research, and I hope I can share that with more people and advocates alike.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

Aside from the great modules, thought-provoking questions from module organisers, and great insights from fellow students, I would say the work-life balance! Studying by distance learning gives me the flexibility to study from anywhere in the world, allowing me to continue to work and travel while completing my degree. Earning my master's degree while at the same time having a continuous work experience optimised all the opportunities I have. It will for sure open many doors within the public and global health sector and will allow me to work in different conditions and settings while improving population health worldwide.

How has the programme helped you in your career?

The programme helped me develop my skills to make well thought out and strategic contributions to health. I also now feel much more competent in critically evaluating and communicating research evidence in my job. I can apply the knowledge and analytical skills I have gained to inform health promotion policy making, programme planning, implementation and evaluation, and research design.

In my current role as a Research Team Leader at the biggest NHS Trust in the UK, I always try to develop and implement mechanisms guided by the knowledge I gained from LSHTM. In fact, I received a Recognition Award for living up to the values of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust during the demands of the pandemic. I developed monitoring tools for research practitioners to assist in tracking of duties of metrics while successfully managing heavy workloads during COVID-19. They still use it up to this today.

Whilst studying my MSc Public Health at LSHTM, I became passionate and well-informed about the importance of health for the public via scientific research and artificial intelligence. I was amazed by how China achieved Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in 2011, representing the largest expansion of UHC in human history. As a Schwarzman Scholar, I hope to develop an understanding of China’s UHC, health policies, artificial intelligence, and biotech industry.

After completing my studies, I am hoping to leverage my knowledge and skills to solve interdisciplinary health challenges, push for equity and create value for patients who most need health technologies and services. I am especially passionate about utilizing research and interdisciplinary collaboration to address organizational and industry-wide problems.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying Public Health?

I would recommend the MSc Public Health to anyone who has a passion for change and wants to expand their knowledge in global health, while being challenged to develop their research and presentation skills. A major component of the MSc Public Health focuses on developing advanced skills to apply research methods and statistics within the public health arena. But trust me, you don’t have to be good in Maths to learn and pass the Statistics and Health Economics modules!

If you're interested in the field of promoting health, then you'll be happy to hear that this is one of the key modules in the MSc. You'll learn to identify where current approaches to health promotion could be improved as well as how to use different media to communicate key health issues.

Finally, and most importantly (I think!), you'll gain an understanding of how to reduce inequalities and improve quality in the context of public health care systems.

Interested in studying by distance learning? 

Find out more about our distance learning programmes or speak to Lloyd to find out more about his experience.