ScHARR Alumnus -Richard Vis

MPH Online with Merit 2013­-16

scharr alumni


My name is Richard Vis. I live in York in the United Kingdom and have worked for over 20 years for a pharmaceutical company that specialises in the manufacture and supply of vaccines.

Why study for an MPH?

Two years ago I was promoted to a new role within the medical department that required me to have a much better understanding of some of the wider aspects of Public Health. I asked my employer if they would support me to undertake a new academic qualification that would help meet the requirements of this new role.

Why distance learning?

They agreed to fund a Master in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Sheffield via the distance learning route so that I could continue to develop into my new role at the same time as learning
about the many different aspects of Public Health. Taking a year out to complete an MPH at this point in my career was not a practical option so by taking the MPH via distance learning route spread over two years was a much better solution for me.

Why the University of Sheffield and ScHARR?

The School of Health Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield has an excellent reputation with the medical profession with a national and international focus and is highly regarded. The University of Sheffield is also part of the Russell Group of 24 Universities with particular emphasis on research, outstanding teaching and links to business and the public sector. As a result I felt that this MPH course from the University of Sheffield was the right course for me.

What topics did the course cover?

The course covered some big topics like Global Public Health, Epidemiology, Communicable Disease Control, Health Promotion and newer topics to me such as Research Methods, Introduction to Statistics , Health Policy and Systems and Systematic approaches to evidence assessment which is increasingly being used to assess the needs for health interventions. All these modules improved my knowledge and understanding of Public Health practice but they also taught me important new skills such as new ways of analysing the research evidence. The whole course was conducted online so I was able to access it during the evenings and weekends from where I ever I was working in the UK. This allowed me to keep up with the coursework and assignments throughout the two years.

What did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed many aspects of the course, all of which was varied and interesting. At the start of the course I particularly enjoyed our discussions around the broader determinants of health and health inequalities and later on our live "webinars" which were very enjoyable with fellow students from all around the world, from the UK to as far away as New Zealand. These discussions gave us real insights into the practical difficulties of the working conditions of Public Health Practitioners in different countries around the world. Coming from a UK perspective it made me realise that the UK has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Throughout the course we had excellent ongoing support from our tutors who gave us regular feedback on our course work during the terms and our final assignments which was very helpful.

The dissertation module enabled me to apply many different aspects of the topics covered in all the modules over the past two years and to put into practice the methodology of researching a topic in greater detail. This allowed me to pick a topic of particular interest to me and to conduct an in depth analysis which was both interesting and insightful.

How has the course helped you?

By completing this MPH­DL from the University of Sheffield it has given me a much better insight into Public Health and the latest research and assessment methodologies. By achieving this MPH it now gives me unique expertise within my company and also more credibility with those that I interact with within the National Health Service (NHS) and Public Health England (PHE). As a mature student it has given me a new optimism and confidence that I have successfully completed a Masters, which is my highest academic qualification, from ScHARR at the University of Sheffield, one of the Russell Group of Universities.

Would you recommend the course?

The Master in Public Health from ScHARR at the University of Sheffield's via the distance learning route has been an excellent course for me. If you are looking for a Master in Public Health that covers the latest research, research methods, systematic reviews methodology and global public health then this could be the course for you. The fact that the entire course can be completed "online" allows you to continue your "day job" and "learn while you earn". However, it does require real discipline and determination to keep pace with the course work and assignments. So long as you can effectively prioritise your study time you can succeed with this MPH. I am indebted to all the teaching staff at ScHARR and the University of Sheffield for their help and support over the past two years. With their help I have achieved a great qualification and now feel a great sense of achievement and am now academically qualified to discuss in detail Public Health research and policy with those that I interact within on a daily basis, both internally within my company and in the NHS and Public Health England.