What it’s like to study Public Health?

Are you thinking about a rewarding career in Public Health?

Join us as we talk to Dr Chandana Unnithan, an Associate Professor in Master of Public Health and Master of Public Health Advanced, as she gives us a glimpse into the Master’s program.

Dr Unnithan is a project management professional and a practitioner in Health Informatics. She who works closely with health systems and has previously worked on implementing projects in Australia public hospitals during 2007-2014, which mainly associated with e-health, m-health, and IoT projects. Before that, she worked in the ICT sector with MNC’s including big brands like IBM for over 6 years. Since 2011, she has been part of the “Space and Global Health” an expert group (within the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), and for the past 5 years she has been a panel member of IoT/wearable technologies on the Grace Hopper Women in Computing series (USA) with other incredible panel members such as Melinda Gates.

Torrens University Australia

What is your vision for the Public Health industry?

My vision is for public health to become truly inter-disciplinary, not only engaging health professionals, but also engaging varied perspectives – may it be technology, business, policy and health. Public health should leverage technologies, innovation, expertise and engage with communities at all levels to build a healthy nation that is truly inclusive.

What is it like to study at Torrens?

The learning environment at Torrens is dynamic, interactive and crisp. We use blackboard, an online learning platform that builds bridges with local and international students, and support peer learning processes. We engage students through on campus workshops and online Collaborate live sessions (via the online platform), podcasts, and webinars. Students have short, engaging discussions in the workshops, may it be on campus with a face-to-face facilitator, or online via collaborate platform with an online facilitator. Students have found the peer participation in groups and interactions with the academics in small classes, particularly useful.

Students have short, engaging discussions in the workshops, may it be on campus with a face-to-face facilitator, or online via collaborate platform with an online facilitator. Students have found the peer participation in groups and interactions with the academics in small classes, particularly useful.

Can I study online?

Yes, you can study online and on-campus. I teach the dual masters Master of Public Health/Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health Advanced, Face-to-Face on Melbourne campus. And I teach the Master of Public Health program online (and also developed the first informatics subject, within the MPH program in 2014).

Torrens University Australia

What subjects do you teach and how do you prepare students to be industry ready?

At Torrens, I am teaching Global Environmental Health Issues, Social Determinants of Health, Health Policy and Advocacy, Health Systems and Economics, Leadership and Effecting Change in Public Health, Epidemiology, Community Health and Disease Prevention, Program Design and Evaluation, and Public Health Informatics. The subjects together are comprehensive and ensures industry ready students – who have an edge over others – in the highly demanding public health field. Let me tell you a bit more about our subjects and why they are important for future professionals.

We begin in the program with Social Determinants of Health – which makes the students aware of the social determinants of health and provides them with basic skills in navigating the public health field. The Health Policy and Advocacy is a policy subject – providing inter-disciplinary skills that equips students with techniques on advocating policy involving different stakeholders groups, particularly in the government. In Health Systems and Economics, they study the systems and economic perspectives in Australian public health systems. These three subjects provide the awareness, foundations and ability to navigate the field.

The subjects together are comprehensive and ensures industry ready students who have an edge over others in the highly demanding public health field.

Leadership and Effective Change in Public Health provides them with skills and awareness in leadership/management, specific to public health. Along with this Epidemiology gives them basics on epidemiology skills, which provides credibility and ability to critically analyse evidence, quantitatively. This is providing them a much needed link to other disciplines and to work with them. On the other hand, Qualitative Research Methods is a unit that builds skills in reaching out into communities and engage with real problems.

Community Health and Disease Prevention takes the students into the realm of community-based disease prevention. In this subject, they are designing real projects. Program Design and Evaluation takes a step further in making the students design, implement, and evaluate a designed program, in the real world, within the realm of public health Australia. This unit is also leading them into the industry. Along with these units, global and environment health issues are explored, and it provides them with the ability to visualise themselves in the big picture – in global health, where they can make a difference.

Public Health Informatics is a unit that provides awareness and engages students in the tools/techniques/technology innovations that are currently being used, and can be leveraged in Australia and across the globe. This includes electronic medical records, mobile IoT, wearable technology, sensory devices, space applications, e-health and mobile health – to name a few.

Keep your mind alert to new experiences and knowledge, while being aware and making use of every tools and technique that is available to you.

What advice would you give to someone interested in studying this course?

Keep your mind alert to new experiences and knowledge, while being aware and making use of every tools and technique that is available to you.

If you would like to know more about Chandana, read “Making waves in the Public Health sphere – Dr Chandana Unnithan, Public Health”.

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