My name is Sonia Anak Nicholas Felix, and I have recently completed my postgraduate programme in Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) through Open Distance Learning (ODL) mode with International Medical University, Malaysia (IMU).
I have been working as a full-time registered nurse at National University Hospital, Singapore since I completed my undergraduate degree in 2014. During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to learn about public health as part of the curriculum. I became interested in this subject when I realised that many health problems could be prevented by promoting proper health practices to the public. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. However, I only learned an overview of public health and felt that I needed more in-depth knowledge. That is why I decided to pursue a postgraduate study, where I hope to learn about various aspects of public health, including epidemiology, biostatistics, health promotion, etc.
Having a strong interest in pursuing a master’s programme but being reluctant to leave my full-time job abroad, I searched the internet and discovered that IMU offered the ODL mode for MSPH. This way, I can learn at my own pace and convenience without compromising on my career.
My MSPH Journey
During the programme, I learned to use my time wisely and become more disciplined. I had to be flexible and adaptable in adjusting my study schedule according to my work shifts. I allocated a few hours daily to work on my assignments, review slides prepared by the lecturers and watch online lectures. Sometimes, I faced challenges balancing my work responsibilities with the academic demands. Managing deadlines for various assignments while fulfilling my work obligations has taught me to prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance. I also devoted considerable time to completing assignments, including reading relevant literature to enhance my knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter.
The lecturers have been responsive and helpful. They can be contacted online via Microsoft Teams to offer further assistance or clarification on any aspect of the assignments or the lectures. The IMU ODL portal has made the course materials readily accessible. Students could easily download the course materials and review them on their devices at their own pace. The platform also enabled students to submit their written assignments online, making it convenient for those who live far away from the campus.
For the MSPH programme in ODL mode, the postgraduate students must complete 80% of the coursework through the online platform, where they will engage in various teaching and learning activities. The remaining 20% of the programme requires students to be on campus for field visits and practical sessions. The field visits were enriching and educational as I witnessed how public health interventions were implemented in real settings.
At the start of the semester, students received notifications about the dates for field visits and practical sessions. This helped me a lot as I could plan my leave days ahead of time with my nurse manager. Through field visits, I also had the opportunity to engage with other MSPH students from ODL and conventional modes. We exchanged our perspectives and insights and co-created knowledge during the sessions.
What's Next for Me?
Having completed my postgraduate study at IMU after 2.5 years of learning and growth, I look forward to becoming a public health official in roles such as a health educator or a programme manager in public health departments. I am eager to apply the knowledge I have acquired from MSPH to the field of public health.
I believe that my education has equipped me with the insights and skills to address the challenges that lie ahead. I am passionate about improving the health and well-being of communities, and I hope to make a positive difference through my work.
A Few Words with Future MSPH Students
Being a university student means we get to experience a range of moments. You will have moments of satisfaction as well as moments of struggle. Also, there are no correct ways to pursue your academic goals; instead, you should find the path that best suits you. The master’s degree journey is not easy, but it can be rewarding and enriching if you embrace the opportunities and overcome the obstacles.