Working full-time while studying Global Health Policy online

Ravi, from Trinidad and Tobago, tells us how he balances studying the MSc Global Health Policy by distance learning while working full-time as a Senior Radiation Therapist.
Ravi Reemaul

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background 

Entering the field of Radiation Therapy allowed me to understand the nature of various types of cancers and how different treatments work with the use of modern technology but most importantly, being the patient's advocate during their treatment. I have a BSc Radiation Therapy. 
Currently, I am a Senior and Lead Radiation Therapist, a position which has allowed me to grow and develop my professional and interpersonal skills through managing a healthcare clinic. I completed my MBA along with additional studies in Health and Safety, Project Management and Public Health workshops. 
Why did you choose to study your course at LSHTM? 

After extensive research, including reaching out to a student ambassador, I decided to pursue this programme as global health has come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to gain an in-depth understanding because as the world becomes increasingly globalised, the role of healthcare leadership, improving access to healthcare and achieving a high quality of health for all at a global level will become more important. 

I applied to LSHTM because it is one of the only universities where Global Health Policy is offered with an in-depth critical framework, in addition to distance learning, which gives the flexibility for work, study and life balance. Also, with multiple nationalities, LSHTM will allow me to obtain a critical overview of the many perspectives in global health. 

How are you finding your course so far, and what have you enjoyed most about your course?  

Although the course requires a lot of reading and understanding, it’s very informative and there is a wealth of knowledge to be acquired from the course handouts and most importantly, the reference readings. I have acquired new knowledge as the course progresses and therefore I am utilising some of this information already in my daily work and my local community. The reference readings give examples of how theories apply to everyday life situations, giving a better understanding of different concepts in the modules.  

What are your plans for after you complete your studies? 

As a healthcare professional, working in the field of Radiation Therapy and seeing daily cases of patients diagnosed with late-stage cancer, I would like to acquire a role in the development of better screening methods for early detection, especially in low- and middle-income countries.   

'LSHTM is a perfect place to practice discussion, meet new people and broaden your knowledge to prepare you to work on a global health platform.'

What key skills are you gaining from studying this programme?   

Thus far, I have gained more specialised knowledge about global health trends and issues and how to critically analyse them. I have also learnt how different organisations and health partners are involved in working towards enhanced global health.  

What are the benefits of distance learning and how does it work? 

Working full time and pursuing studies will always make it a bit difficult to manage work/life balance. However, the MSc Global Health Policy by Distance Learning gives the flexibility of completing all the required modules within a 2-5 year period. The course page provides suggested timeframes for completing the programme on a schedule which suits you. 

The MSc comprises 9 modules (4 compulsory + 5 elective modules) plus a project, or 12 modules (4 compulsory and 8 electives). The 4 compulsory modules must be completed first, 3 of which must be passed before moving on to the electives. For the compulsory modules, each module consists of 13-14 sections and you can post any questions you have on the discussion forum. It is recommended that each section will take at least 6-8 hours, however, it depends on your familiarity with the content in each section. 

The study year for most modules runs from the beginning of October through to May with exams in June. Some modules have assessed assignments that contribute to your final grade and some have exams only. During this time, tutorial support is available, and lecturers respond within a timely manner. If at the end of the module, you don't feel ready to take the exam, you can always defer to following year and study at your own pace. 

How do you balance your time while working and studying? 

I am a first-year student, pursuing 4 compulsory modules. Everyone will have a different approach to managing their studies but as I work full time in the field of Oncology, sometimes it can become very difficult for me to study during the week. In terms of structuring my studies, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress with each module. 
Some sections in the modules are heavier and require more time, but for me, I usually print out some of the study materials and go through them when I have time at work. Most of my studies are completed on weekends, however, I usually complete at least two hours of studies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays if time permits. Although I study on a weekend, I still make time for leisure activities such as going to the movies, hiking and going to the beach as you will definitely need a break to refresh. I usually cover all of the sections in numerical order as sometimes information will be relevant to the next section. 

Not everyone can study during the week and hence some individuals pursue 2-3 modules per year. I choose to pursue 4 modules as I would like to complete the programme within a 2-3-year time frame if I pass all exams. The programme itself is very structured and is superior quality as I have seen thus far. 

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

The global health sector is a unique and intricate sector to understand- there’s no one size fits all solution that can fix the current issues that we face, especially with COVID-19. However, through discussion and multi-sectoral cooperation, a tailor-made solution can emerge. If you are passionate about becoming diverse in global health and to an extent, global health policies, LSHTM is a perfect place to practice discussion, meet new people and broaden your knowledge to prepare you to work on a global health platform.