Georgia Bartlett

Master of Public Health
Specialisation: Evaluation and Implementation Science

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“I use the knowledge and skills learned during my MPH every day and it has equipped me with the most solid of foundations in terms of knowledge, skills and job-readiness regardless of where my career takes me.”

Passionate about the social and structural determinants of health, Georgia Bartlett pursued a Master of Public Health (MPH) after witnessing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalised communities globally. Her commitment to addressing health disparities led her to a role as a Research Assistant in the Evaluation and Implementation Science Unit at the Centre for Health Policy. With her MPH, Georgia is actively contributing to the advancement of equitable and accessible lung cancer screening programs, ensuring that those in need receive essential care.

Georgia Bartlett

  • Why did you decide to study at the University of Melbourne?

    I decided to study a Master of Public Health as I became passionate about the social and structural determinants of health throughout my BA. The idea that this passion could become my career was sparked by an internship at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia at the start of 2020, and two undergraduate subjects that I took during the COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria in 2020 at the end of my BA. These were ‘Health Geography’ and ‘Power, Inequality, and Ideology’. Both of these subjects gave me the theory and context to understand how the impacts of COVID-19 were being experienced so disproportionately by communities with the least power and on a global scale. This was irreconcilable with my own comfortable existence throughout the lockdowns with stable housing, an income, and a support network; it fuelled a fire inside of me to learn more about the intersections between social policy, inequality, and health outcomes. At that point, knowing I wanted to pursue further study, I began looking into the Master of Public Health and it immediately appealed to me; the balance between more theory-heavy and vocational subjects, and the sheer number of elective subjects to choose from depending on which path I wanted to take. In the end, I chose to study my MPH at the University of Melbourne because I had a fantastic experience and endless opportunities during my undergraduate degree, and I was looking forward to being taught by the highly capable and inspiring teaching team across MSPGH.

  • What do you like most about your studies at the University of Melbourne?

    The aspect of the MPH that I enjoyed the most was the way in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is intertwined as a key focus area throughout almost all subjects available. This included learning about best-practice in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the importance of centering Indigenous knowledge and epistemologies in research. For non-Indigenous students like me, it is critical that we understand and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequities as being socially determined and situated within a context of ongoing colonial disempowerment. The solutions to this lie with communities themselves, and it is important that we as future public health professionals are equipped with the skills to recognise, support and advocate for health equity and self-determination.

    The most surprising aspect of my MPH was my experience taking the Biostatistics subject. As a social science student, I was terrified of having to do this subject and was worried about how much work I would have to put in to keep up with my peers who came from a biomedical or general science background. Fast forward 12 weeks and I achieved my highest ever grade for any subject throughout my MPH. This was purely the result of the incredible teaching team and the way in which the Biostatistics course is delivered. They manage to make statistics approachable, easy to comprehend, and dare I say – fun! It allowed me to develop skills in quantitative data analysis and, to put it simply, to finally be able to understand what all of those numbers in the brackets mean in the results section of a research paper. Although my passion will always lie in social science, I am now a Biostatistics convert and a huge advocate for anyone apprehensive about the more quantitative subjects.

  • What have been the best things about studying the Master of Public Health at the University of Melbourne?

    The best thing about studying the MPH at the University of Melbourne was the relationships I formed and maintained with both fellow students and teachers. I always felt so supported by my peers in a culture that supported collaboration rather than competition. Although studying full-time between 2021 and 2023 meant that the majority of my course was online, I was still able to make valuable friendships and forge strong connections and networks with lecturers and tutors. Although there were times I struggled to stay motivated whilst being fully online, the quality of the teaching and learning materials was above and beyond and made it so engaging. Once I was able to go back to work part-time, the flexibility of online learning meant that I could learn when it suited me and attend live lectures from anywhere.

  • What kinds of work integrated learning, practical experience or academic enrichment activities did you participate in your degree, and how did they impact your development?

    Throughout my MPH I had many opportunities to participate in academic enrichment and work integrated learning activities. For example, I was able to gain specific experience in my interest area of evaluation and implementation science through the peer-to-peer evaluation consultancy opportunity offered in Health Program Evaluation 2. This allowed me to become an ‘evaluation consultant’ and work with Doctor of Physiotherapy students to develop an evaluation plan for their own health promotion assessments. This experience cemented my interest in the discipline.

    The Capstone research project in the final year is an especially valuable opportunity to bring together and apply the knowledge and skills acquired over the MPH, while at the same time working with and learning from academic supervisors. For my research capstone, I was able to match my interest in implementation science with my passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Under the supervision of the Indigenous Health Equity team, I completed a qualitative study into the acceptability and feasibility of implementing resources to raise awareness of complex-PTSD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents in perinatal health settings.  This was both an invaluable learning opportunity and a fantastic way to showcase all the hard work and effort I had put in throughout my MPH.

  • What goals did you set yourself before starting the course, and have you achieved these?

    I did not set myself any explicit goals before starting my MPH. I have always been motivated by just trying my best and remembering that there is life outside of university. As a regional student and the first in my family to attend university, I have tried to avoid setting unrealistic expectations or putting pressure on myself – I know that my family is proud of me no matter what and I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to study in the first place. My proudest moment from my MPH was probably handing in my Capstone thesis which marked the culmination of 6.5 years of study all up. It was a bittersweet feeling to know that this period of my life was coming to an end, but also being so proud of both the work that I was submitting and the work I had put in over both of my degrees. At this point I don’t have any firm goals for my future career. I am very happy in my current role and eager to continue learning from my colleagues. It is likely that a PhD is on the cards, but I think I need a break from study for at least a few years!

  • Where are you currently working and what is your position title/role?

    During the final year of my MPH, I was offered casual employment as a Research Assistant in the Evaluation and Implementation Science Unit at the Centre for Health Policy, which has now turned into a full-time position.  My role sits within the cancer screening team which works across cervical, lung, bowel, and breast cancer screening policy and implementation research. I am currently involved in a major research program exploring and preparing for the implementation of a national lung cancer screening program in 2025. Much of our research is focused on how to make a lung cancer screening program equitable and accessible for those who need it.

    Although I am not always aware of it, I use the knowledge and skills learned during my MPH every day. A perfect example of this is a government tender that my team recently submitted a response to; I was able to take a leading role in preparing this response as I had done it before for an assessment task! Even though the assessment task was a mock response, I was able to draw on this experience to respond to all the components for the real tender and we were able to pull it together within a tight deadline.

    I don’t know if I will work in academia forever, but what I do know is that the MPH has equipped me with the most solid of foundations in terms of knowledge, skills and job-readiness regardless of where my career takes me.

  • What advice do you have for future and current students who are interested in studying this course and pursuing a similar career?

    My advice for future students of the MPH is do not hesitate to apply! The value of the MPH lies in its ability to prepare you for any career path, even if that ends up being outside of public health. It is an inherently multidisciplinary degree that can be tailored to whatever your interests or passions are, and whatever your capacity for study is, whether part-time or full-time.

    For those already studying the MPH, my key piece of advice is to take the subjects you WANT to take, not the ones you think you should or that others may tell you to. This is not to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself by taking subjects outside of your comfort zone (hello biostatistics!), but it is so important that you enjoy the process of learning and that is so much easier to do when you are passionate about the topic or content.

    And for both future and current students, remember that there is life outside of your studies! Even though it meant extending both of my degrees by a semester, having a part-time job throughout, and intentionally making time to socialise, exercise and travel kept me motivated. You can take as much time as you need!

  • What inspires you?

    My current team is predominately female, and I am inspired by the incredibly intelligent and capable women I get to work with every day. I am inspired by their selfless dedication to their work and their commitment to health equity in everything that they do. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to work and learn in such a positive and supportive environment and contribute to improving health equity, even if in a small way.

Learn more about the Master of Public Health