A Career in Public Health

What is Public Health?

Public health is defined as the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisations, communities and individuals.

Whether you enjoy crunching numbers, formulating policy, managing healthcare facilities, conducting laboratory or field research, or working directly with people to improve their health, there is a place for you in the field of public health. Being a public health professional enables you to work internationally, addressing the health needs of whole communities, and influencing policy that affects the health of societies

Career opportunities

As a public health postgraduate, you will be prepared to work in a variety of fields including:

  1. Local, state, national or international health agencies
  2. Local and international non-profit organisations
  3. Public health advocacy and community-based organisations
  4. Private research and consulting firms
  5. Private industry
  6. Pharmaceutical industry and other medical-related companies
  7. Academia

How to start a career in Public Health?

A career in public health is suitable for both science and social science graduates. If you are interested in a career in Public Health, you should first volunteer for your local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are providing health or social service for marginalised communities. You can also work for public health institutions in your country. This experience will be useful when you want to pursue a postgraduate degree in public health.

What is relevant public health experience?

Which programme is right for me?

Course WorkResearch
Master of Public HealthMaster of Medical Science
Master of Epidemiology Doctor of Public Health
Doctor of Public HealthDoctor of Philosophy
Program Manager / PractitionerAcademician / Researcher
Master of Public HealthMaster of Medical Science
Master of Epidemiology Master of Epidemiology
Doctor of Public HealthDoctor of Public Health
Doctor of Philosophy

Teaching and Learning

The training of public health professionals has shifted focus to be more about skills and competencies. The MPH and DrPH programme in the University of Malaya employs a multitude of methods in its delivery and assessment. We employ the blended learning approach, to integrate online and traditional teaching and learning. On-top of classes there are seminars, assignments, case studies, site visits and sharing of experience from practising public health specialist.

For medical doctors who are interested in occupational health, there are occupational health clinics posting, practical training in clinical assessment methods, workplace risk assessments, and case-reports write-up.

Master of Public Health

The MPH is the first step for a career in public health. It is suitable for medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists and health professionals. It is also suitable for established or early-career clinical specialists who are keen to develop their expertise in public health and research methods. The MPH seeks to produce specialist who has a strong foundation in the broad field of Public Health as well as adequate training and preparation to take up special functions as required in the discipline of his or her own choice.

The format of the MPH programme offers flexibility for students. Student can choose to complete the course in 2+1 semesters (1-year) or up to 8 semesters (4-year). Students are required to complete 7 core and 1 research modules, and choose another 6 elective modules from more than 15 being offered.

More information on Master of Public Health

Doctor of Public Health

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) programme is doctoral-level qualification intended for leaders in public health. The DrPH in University of Malaya is oriented towards the dual goals of developing the next generation of leaders in public health with the technical expertise to conduct and evaluate applied research in public health. It aspires to equip potential students with the skills to apply scientific knowledge to solve challenges in public health, and conduct health research. Importantly, the program also aims to develop management and leadership skills in its candidates.

The DrPH programme is divided in to Part I and Part II. Students must successfully complete the Part I before proceeding to Part II. In Part I, students are required to complete 3 core modules and a professional internship posting, and choose another 3 elective modules form the 8-10 being offered. In Part II, students need to complete a research thesis. The duration of the course is between 3 and 6 years.

More information on Doctor of Public Helath

Master of Medical Science / Doctor of Philosophy

The Master of Medical Science (MMedSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are awarded based on the examination of a thesis, prepared under supervision, which represents an original and significant contribution to knowledge and comprehension in the chosen field of study. The programmes are designed to ensure the fields of study remain relevant to the needs of today. At the same time, the candidates foresee the changes in societal and industry standards, trends and behavioural patterns; the very same qualities that make them brilliant and effective leaders in their selected field of research.

The duration of the MMedSc is between 2 and 8 semesters (1-4-years) and for PhD is between 4 and 12 semesters (2-6 years).

Public Health Medicine Specialist

Medical doctors that are registered with the Malaysian Medical Council can proceed to register for recognition as a Public Health Medicine Specialist (PHMS) with the National Specialist Registry. The requirement to be registered as a PHMS is a Master of Public Health degree or equivalent and a Doctor of Public Health or a Doctor of Philosophy from a Faculty of Medicine or School of Public Health with the research focus on a public health issue. The duration of the Master of Public Health should be a minimum of a 1-year programme and the Doctor of Public Health should be a minimum of a 3-year programme. (Note: the duration is the programme duration and not the time a candidate takes to complete the programme). After obtaining an MPH and DrPH, the candidate needs to obtain 6-month structured training.

The Public Health Medicine Specialist can choose the following field of practice:

  • Public Health Medicine
  • Communicable Disease Epidemiology
  • Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
  • Family Health
  • Health Management
  • Occupational Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Military Medicine

Why study Public Health at the University of Malaya?

The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM) was established in 1964, and is the first Public Health Department in Malaysia. Since the inception of the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program in 1973, more than 1,000 candidates have completed the programme.

The strength of the department lies with her multi-disciplinary team of academics and researchers of international calibre. We ensure the relevance of our curriculum and quality of our teaching by meeting the standards specified by the Malaysian Qualifying Agency, as well as joining the National Conjoint Committee of Public Health program at the national level, and receiving certification from the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health and ASEAN University Network at international level. Our programmes are also recognised by the World Health Organization.

The department is known as the hub for quality Public Health research in Malaysia with the establishment of three research centres. Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence-based Practice (formally known as the Julius Centre University of Malaya, JCUM), has pioneered research in the fields of clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine and is a centre of excellence for clinical research. The Centre for Population Health conducts multiple community intervention projects and actively contributes to our local communities. The Centre of Occupation and Environment Health provides consultancies in various occupational and environmental areas.

The Occupational Health (OH) Clinic is the first hospital-based clinic that manages occupation and work-related diseases. The OH Clinic is used as one of the training centres for the MPH and DrPH students to practice occupational medicine. The academics from the department also heads the Public Health Department and Occupational Safety, Health and Environmental unit in the University Malaya Medical Centre.

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