Finding a job in Global Health

hi my name is Greg Martin this is a short video blog on career opportunities within the global health space I was actually meant to come into the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and give this talk to the students I couldn't make the dates we talked about so we decided to make a video instead okay so what we're going to cover is this firstly what organizations might you want to work for if you're going to work in the global health space number two what skill sets do you need if you're going to work in a global health space and number three what are the different areas what is the subject matter that you might work within how does that relate to the skill set and how does that relate to the various organizations that you might want to work within okay but firstly and very briefly Who am I my name is Greg Martin I'm the editor in chief of the journal globalization and health I'm also the director of elimination of mother-to-child transmission at the Clinton Health Access Initiative my background briefly is I'm a medical doctor from South Africa after a master's in public health as well and I've also done a master's in business Business Administration when thinking about global health organizations there's more than one way to divide things up the one way to do it is to think about it in terms of is this organization global national sub-national or local I think for practical purposes it's actually easier to think of the organization's in terms of their function so are they providing funding do they do implementation work do they do research work do they do advocacy work do they do governance work do they do product development work do they do clinical and community work and most organizations actually don't fit completely neatly into one of these categories but it's a good place to start in terms of funding organizations is the Global Fund is the Gates Foundation there's differed this USAID there's pet father's unit aid certainly lots of smaller charities that provide very specific funding in either a very specific geographic area or a very specific subject area these donor agencies are the bilateral or multilateral donor agencies either provide funding directly to national programs for example the Global Fund give money to countries to procure products for HIV TB and malaria or they provide money to implementing partners who actually go out and do work or provide technical assistance to those governments so these implementing partners might be the Clinton Health Access Initiative or Esther aid or MSF or the ICRC some don't agencies are very specifically fund research like the Wellcome Trust finds a lot of global health research and health research that research is being done by primarily universities but also think tanks so you've got for example the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Johns Hopkins University's actually you'll find most universities in some shape or form have research programs that contribute into the body of knowledge that we use in the global health space in terms of advocacy if that's what you're interested in you'll actually find most organizations in some shape or form more involved with advocacy even if that's not their primary mandate so MSF for example do a whole lot of work in countries with disaster relief etcetera etcetera but they do a lot of good work in the in the field of advocacy in terms of governance the most important actor of course is going to be the national programs themselves the Ministry of Health within the NGO within the countries that you're dealing with but providing support to those ministries in in the form of normative guidelines are the various the various UN agencies so that that would include the World Health Organization UN aids you in MPA UNHCR the World Bank which is not a UN agency the ILO and the IMF which is also not a UN agency but these are these are what we call supranational structures they don't fall specifically within the jurisdiction of a particular nation state in terms of product development so we're talking about drugs that are important in developing countries and and Diagnostics if you've got on the one hand your your big farm and your private sector you've also got public-private partnerships and you've got nongovernmental organizations that have got projects on the go that are dealing with these things so for example you could find you've got mmv you've got paths you've got DN di and n multiple others in it so that's a particularly interesting area of work at the moment and then you've got your clinical and community work and this is technical support and work that's been done right at the coalface in the communities you know with with people that are ill and you've got Baylor that provide clinical support you've got egg path you've got mothers to mothers that provide work in the communities and then and these are extremely important and finally I just want to mention that of course there's a lot of people work in the global health space but don't necessarily work for a specific organization so they sell them their time as independent consultants and they work on projects as and when across multiple organizations ok let's talk a little bit about the different subject matter with the different areas that you may get involved with and and the list in this census is is literally almost endless I mean there's so many things that people get involved with but we're going to just again we're going to touch the surface but you'll see there's a lot out there ok and then the reason I want to get into this is that people often have the impression that global health is really dealing with HIV in Africa and that's global health and that's and that's simply not true right what's our T let's start communicable disease we've got HIV TB and malaria those are the big guys but equally important pneumonia meningitis diarrhea you've got neglected tropical diseases bird flu polio eradication measles vaccinations hemorrhagic fever next we've got our non communicable diseases cardiovascular disease strokes tobacco and alcohol related diseases cancer diabetes obesity malnutrition mental illness accidents and trauma and then of course we've got a whole lot of special issues and special population groups like reproductive maternal and newborn newborn and child health we've got Human Rights gender issues refugees and displaced populations we've got disaster relief and emergency aid we've got conflict and health we've got climate change in health we've got bioterrorism we've got a health em health food security we've got fresh water and sanitation issues we've got health services we've got essential medicines and diagnostics and of course we've got the social determinants of health so there's a lot out there and this is just scratching the surface trust me ok next we're going to talk about the various skills and disciplines within public health now I don't feel as if you need to be an expert in everything but it is going to be useful for you to know a little bit about each of these areas ok let's just go through the list of course you need to know about public health in general the the underlying science that defines public health is epidemiology and so you can't get away with not knowing a bit about epidemiology and with epidemiology you need to know some stats you don't need to know a lot you don't need to be able to be a statistician but you need to have at least an understanding of what's going on in that world added to that health policy how have policy gets made health systems what our health systems is you know the whu-oh defined five sort of building blocks of health systems economics and with that of course development economics social sciences medical anthropology these are important demography especially if you're involved with maternal health and child health issues whatever you're doing you need to have a good grounding and ethics and understand the various you know medical ethics and how that came about and why that's important depending on what you're getting involved with it's always a good idea to have a good sense of the clinical and biological sciences that underpin what it is that you're trying to get done of course you need to understand research even if you're not going to be an academic you need to know where the evidence is coming from and the last thing I want to bring up which actually isn't talked about very often in public health circles but that's management science and the reason I'm saying this is because wherever you work whatever you do ultimately you're going to be trying to get stuff done and that's where management science comes in and then down the line if you land up leading an organization then it becomes particularly important or in the middle of your career you may have a sort of a middle management job so these are important things so strategy development finance and budgetary management organizational structure operational excellence human resource management project management portfolio management potentially procurement and supply chain management if you're getting involved with products and access to medicines information management and of course leadership and leadership something that you know people often confuse leadership and management but they certainly two separate ideas okay let's try to make some sense of the different options that you have it's assume for a moment that you're an mph student you've just about finished your marches and public health you're thinking about working in the global health space you're not quite sure where to go what the what the work opportunities are how do you make sense of what I've been saying there's there's multiple organizations is a lot of different skills that you need there's lots of different subject matter you could get involved with what should you do okay so what are the options option one is you become a super-duper expert in a specific disease area so you take one or two disease areas or issues and you become an expert in those things and organizations that work in that in those areas you know will represent possible job opportunities for you option two is that you develop a skill set that can be applied across a number of disease areas and you make that your marketing point right so you become very strong in health economics or statistics or epidemiology and that allows you to apply you know the range of organization that you can apply to is increased dramatically by making that your skillset having said that organizations if they work in a particular disease area they tend to want you to have a good detailed working knowledge of that disease area too so while you don't have to be the SuperDuper expert you're going to need to know a little bit and and so that really brings me to option two option three is that you get a combination of option one and two right so you your hunt you don't try and learn everything about every disease you take it you take a handful of these diseases that you're interested in and understand them add to that a skill set that you know an area a way that you know you're going to be able to add value and and and use that as a combination as a sales pitch so for example you might know a lot about HIV and a lot about health economics and you want you your value-add it's going to be in the area of health economics as it is applied to the HIV epidemic for example academia is a little bit of a special case right so if you want to go and if you want to be an academic you're really going to need to hunker down and and have detailed specific knowledge in a particular area if you're going to be an academic you're going to need to do a PhD right you can sometimes get away without a PhD in academia maybe if you're a medical doctor that you know they have a little bit of leeway but by and large you need to do a PhD and it's a big commitment so you know think about it carefully I think the question I probably get asked most common most often by students doing mph is is should they do a PhD after the mph and the answer is and we'll look the reason that that question comes up is people sometimes don't have a job on the table they're not quite sure what to do and so doing a PhD sort of seems like the sort of default thing right in lieu of actually having a job I'll just throw myself into four or five more years of study and the other reason that they you know they often think it's a good idea is because the people they're asking for it for advice are often their lecturers and their lecturers are people that did PhDs and nine times out of ten if you ask a person for advice as to what you should do they're going to tell you to do the thing that they did right so take advice with respect to doing a PhD from lecturers and professors with a pinch of salt and unless it's the case that you are interested in becoming an academic in which case you've got to do a PhD right and then it's about choosing the right supervising the right subject matter if you're not going to go into academia a PhD is a big time sink and there's an opportunity cost to think about it very carefully another question I get asked quite a lot is do I need to have work experience in developing in a developing country context the answer to that really is yes with exceptions but by and large you know you're never really going to get taken seriously by global health organizations and they've got really got some some experience and some time on the ground in a developing country context now I can see that this is a little bit of a chicken and egg right so how do I get the experience that's needed in order to get the job that I need to get the experience so you know I think a lot of people nowadays going to do some work experience their work as a volunteer or as an intern that's a great way to do it there are career pods in the global health space that are a little bit more forgiving so for example if you're a lawyer and you're interested in getting involved with intellectual property issues that relate to access to medicines in poor countries you can get involved with those sorts of issues and probably find work without necessarily you know having spent a lot of time and developed in a developing country context and what about jobs in the private sector people you know if you if you're struggling to find a job at an NGO and you know are you selling out by going to work for like a big farm or something like that and the answer to that is not necessarily I mean there's a lot of these big companies like GSK they've got they've got drug access programs that are very focused on on increasing the access to medicines in developing countries or they've got corporate social responsibility programs or philanthropic branches that you can get involved with so getting a job in the private sector isn't necessarily selling out to the big bad you know evil private sector I mean I think that you know there's a lot of good that can be done and it's certainly a career option that you should keep in mind we keep on the table okay and then finally of course there's the what if I whatever I just can't find a job I've been applying and there's nothing out there and I'm just getting no so I've been to interviews but not you know keep working as an independent consultant as an option on the table during a period of time during which you haven't managed to find a job a couple of reasons firstly you know you're not going to have dead space on your CV so you're going to have been doing something even if it's not going to be necessarily your dream job and you don't love it and you know typically you know if you work as a consultant and you're young and you don't have a large network you might just have to take what you can get so it might not be the most glamorous work but it's work and it's an opportunity to network and it's an opportunity to prove yourself so I you know it's often like an important stepping stone to getting a job and a lot of a lot of people working at the WH o and the UN agencies got in there by doing some consulting where people got to know them they've got a good reputation you know and the next thing you know a job opportunity arose and they were the preferred candidate so consulting works a good option again the consulting work problem is often one of a chicken-and-egg to get consulting work you usually have to have a bit of a network but you're wanting to do the consulting work in order to get the network so it's not necessarily that easy to get the consulting work but it is out there and you know you do need to just contact the beep let you do know ask for it and you'll probably find there's something out there that you can do right I hope that was useful I'm conscious of the fact that I'm literally just you know scratching the surface on any one of these issues we could talk for hours and hours you know and that in terms of the number of organizations you might want to get involved with you know there's literally hundreds in terms of the subject matter there's just it never ends I hope this was useful I'm happy to field questions so if you've got questions or you want to get in touch please do and you learn it and if I can give advice I will you know if you've got something to add or comment to make that's fantastic ok I hope you enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to hearing back from you a big thank you to the happy hour end for providing the graphics thanks very much you


  1. Thank you for your kind information sir

  2. Hey Doc, can you give me a job? 🙂

  3. Hi Greg,
    I am doing a masters in biotechnology and had the opportunity to work for PATH as a research fellow over the summer.I have really now taken a keen interest in global health and wanted to ask you about some skills that i need to succeed in this environment. Thank you

  4. Wow, awesome video.

  5. Greg!
    I'm so appreciative of your helpful advice and experience. I am a 40-year-young single mom finishing her BS in Psychology. I think I have to switch gears going into my graduate program, I was thinking of concentrating on the MS in education and promotion. My goal is to do global work and wind up with the UN or WHO. I'm not choosing the MPH program because I can't bare THAT many statistic and biology courses – I'm just not cut for that. Do I have a shot? Also, I would love to hear your suggestions of other public health concentrations that can get me on the right path. Thank you ever so much for helping all of us find our way.

  6. student bachelor degree nurse help me

  7. Hi Dr. Greg Martin! Thank you for this very helpful video about careers in Global Health. I am also an MD (in a developing country) that specialised in Paediatrics and I just finished my MPH degree. This video is really inspiring because it gave me an idea what to do. I have been submitting my CV to WHO and UNICEF, but am still waiting. Can you further explain the role of independent consultants and how do to get that positions? Thank you Dr. Greg, I will appreciate it so much if you give me some advise.

  8. hello
    thanks so much for your video.
    I have a degree in physics please what would advice I study for master to enter the medical field.

  9. Hi Greg. Thank you for the video its great.
    I am a medical doctor at Tembisa Hospital in South Africa. I'd like to do my post grad in either public health or global health and am very unsure of which to chose. I want to work worldwide and for global organisations, but also have the option of working in South Africa as well. What would you recommend?

  10. I am delighted with your presentations.

  11. This is such a good initiative. I have been working in Public health reseach in last 2 years. Can I have your mail ID?

  12. Hello Dr! first, thank so much for the video. It gave me a big push towards my plans and projects. So, Thank you for the inspiration.
    I have been trying to reach you to ask you, I'm not sure this youtube is a good area to ask but I'll try. I'm a Pulmonology fellow trying to get into MPH. My big plan is to specialize in Lung disease ( esp Asthma), pollution/smoking and renewable energy. I'm not sure if MPH will be a good start but I think my passion goes around this triad. Any thoughts?

  13. This was so helpful to guide me as I've just finished my MSc in Public Health! Thanks Greg. I would really like to chat with you personally if possible.

  14. Hi Dr. greg, I have seen your all videos regarding carrier opportunity in WHO, I have specially concern with Vaccine coordination program, I am having working Experience of vaccine Research and Development, Prequalification and commercialization of vaccine through WHO across the world. And Supply cold management of vaccine through UNICEF and PAHO. having an experience of AEFI and Quality concern of vaccine and Biologicals. So How can apply to the WHO vacancies specially for the Asian pacific Region and rest all.

  15. hi greg. thanks a ton..real food for thought and guidance to young pubic health professionals like me…

  16. thanks for inspiring me…

  17. Hi Greg, I really like your presentation and communications skills in the video. A curious question, how do you make your very engaging videos?

  18. Thank you for the video! the helpout seems to be inactive now

  19. Thanks!

  20. whats the difference between a career in public health and global health ?

  21. I wish met you when was in Namibia

  22. Blesssss! Grateful I found your videos!

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