Vishwanath Iyer

Master of Public Health

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"As a doctor treating patients individually, I wanted to learn to promote and improve health at the population level, considering how burdened doctors and healthcare systems are in my home country of India."

Viswanath Iyer

As a doctor treating patients individually, I wanted to learn to promote and improve health at the population level, considering how burdened doctors and healthcare systems are in my home country of India.

While the subject choices of the Master of Public Health were attractive, the exposure to field experts and the support services available to students encouraged me and gave me the confidence that I would be supported well if I came across any hurdles. The experienced and esteemed teaching staff, the support services available to students, the reputation of the university and the diverse student contingent were key factors for choosing the University of Melbourne over other institutions.

I really appreciate the diversity within the Master of Public Health student cohort. You get to learn about different experiences and view things from diverse perspectives. It really broadens your thought process, and the environment encourages you to be more inclusive of people’s experiences, which I believe is a key skill in public health. I find the in-class sessions particularly exciting because you meet students from different backgrounds and get to learn from their experiences and viewpoints.

Personally, my relationship with fellow students and tutors has been the best thing from my study experience so far. As an international student, feeling supported by your friends and tutors who are willing to answer every silly question really makes you feel comfortable and gets you through challenging times.

I was lucky to have been a part of the Global Health Mentoring Program last year. The program, that lasts seven months, paired me with a public health expert who shared her experiences within of working in global health. She gave me advice on improving the scope of my degree, my career in public health and even tips to thrive in Melbourne.

I enjoy exploring Melbourne, especially checking out cafes and restaurants. The diversity of the city really makes you feel welcome and warm. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to interact with professionals from public health during my degree and through references from my mentor.

There are many support networks for International students in Melbourne – student organisations like UMSU providing free support services for most things a student might need, free advocacy and legal support from UMSU and the City of Melbourne organisation to name a few. I would recommend International students to search and join groups within and outside the University, to follow them on social media, to find community centres relevant to them across the city (especially for students from diverse backgrounds – they prove to be a wonderful support group especially through phases of culture shock), and to explore the city as much as they can in the initial days, to understand reach and access to health and support services.

I would like to go into a career in health promotion. The Master of Public Health has helped me navigate through the options available to me while giving me a taste of what the respective fields would look like in reality. Interactions with real-world professionals throughout the course help you understand what a real day at work looks like and helps us refine our options.

I currently volunteer within and outside the University, where my roles focus on health promotion. These roles entail improving health outcomes and supporting the local community with resources to promote well-being and destigmatise help-seeking behaviour. I really enjoy organising activities where participants get to recharge.

My course has helped me assess the needs of the population at large and taught me multiple ways to support them, be it through policy change, advocacy, or support services.

My advice to future students would be to interact and socialise with the student community and the university staff as much as possible. Every individual has a story to tell and a perspective to share and that is the best learning experience.

This past year, the student community has been my greatest inspiration (both local and international). I have seen students work at odd jobs, fulfill their university commitments, and find ways to support themselves and improve their lives, through what would be the most challenging phase of their lives. They dealt with uncertainty, insecurity and ill-health and came out on top.

Find out more about the Master of Public Health