Working in A&E and studying Public Health at the same time - Candy's part-time experience

Students who do not require a student visa to study in the UK may have the option to study some MSc programmes part-time at LSHTM. Candy from MSc Public Health, also an A&E nurse assistant, shares her experience studying part-time and working part-time at the same time and gives advice on how to manage both commitments.
Candy Oluwajana, MSc Public Health


Around March 2021, I was working in A&E as a nursing assistant. I had been working in the hospital for a few waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and I’d seen colleagues, patients and the health system struggle and it had got me thinking about health, its complications, its relation to and influence in the world and its promotion. I had a conversation with one of my senior nurses and she encouraged me to apply for a Public Health MSc. I’m glad I did! I didn’t have much direct experience working in the Public Health field, but I completed an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology in the summer of 2019 and my experience in the hospital provided me with a good basis for understanding health systems, a module I would go on to take as a term 2 elective, and social issues which often shape health. This was a useful perspective to have when I started learning the content of the course. 

My journey so far 

I decided to select the general stream because this allowed me the most freedom when choosing my electives modules. In Term 1, MSc Public Health students take 4 core modules and 2 electives. Half-time students are advised to do 2-3 modules. I was a bit ambitious and decided to do all 4 core modules which I would not advise unless you have the time to do so. Having no prior experience in the Public Health field meant everything I was learning was new and almost unfamiliar. That was one of the most challenging things about term 1 from my experience. However, my term 1 selection provided me with a good foundation for learning for the rest of the course. In term 2, I took Health Systems and Ethics, Public Health and Human Rights. Ethics, Public Health and Human Rights was my favourite module that year and remains my favourite to this day. It was a module that I was interested in but it gave me a chance to a branch out from things I may have traditionally selected. I would recommend doing at least one module you consider different from your ordinary. I used term 3, year 1 to think about my project and enjoy the sun. Health Policy, Process and Power (HPPP) and Foundations of Health Promotions were my year 2, term 1 modules. These modules married together very well. Health Promotion Approaches and Methods and Social Epidemiology in term 2 and I will be taking the compulsory general stream module in term 3.

Best things about my experience 

The student body is the best thing about LSHTM. Students have come from a range of backgrounds with varying levels of experience. This makes for rich in-class discussion and shapes ideas that will implicitly and explicitly benefit your learning. LSHTM is nestled between UCL and other central London universities, you can access these institutions' libraries, libraries resources and facilities if you follow the required sign-up process. Half-time students also get the advantage of time and space to think of the module selection and project over 2 years. You can be more directive with your learning and selection of information this way. 

Advice for prospective students and new half-timers 

First of all, good luck and congratulations! 

  1. Sometimes work will demand more, and it will have some consequence on your academic pursuits and vice versa. It’s okay if this happens, try to mitigate these effects as much as possible, respond don’t react and speak to the relevant people if you need support. At LSHTM, student services, your tutor and the programme director are here to support you as well as the academic staff and hopefully the friends you make will provide moral support. 
  2. Use your tutor. I’ve had two tutors who have been very supportive and identified how to support me whilst studying. Ask for their advice if you are stuck with things. 
  3. If the timetables aren’t out for your modules, sign up to read only access for the previous academic year, this will give you an idea of what to expect. Planning your time will help you agree on hours at work and help you find the right rhythm as the terms change. 
  4. I would not recommend doing more than 25 hours of work per week unless your employer gives you leeway then you can work around your LSHTM timetable. Remember to think about the time need to prepare for classes and not just attend. 
  5. For those applying keep your application honest, and remember public health relates to almost everything we do. You never know, you might just be one of the people that makes up the richness of the student body.