Response: Questions Regarding MPH

NS writes:

Hey Palak,

I am planning to start the MPH to MD pathway at SGU this August.  I came across your blog and have read through it.  I found it interesting and informative.  I had a few follow up questions, if you do don’t mind addressing them.

1)Based on your latest post, it seems like several students believe their MPH coursework wasn’t well structured.  Did you find this to be the case?
2)After your first semester of the MPH, did you opt not to start the MD program?  It seems as though your grades would have qualified you to, based on the post you made during finals time.
3) Would you say a majority of MPH to MD candidates progress to start the MD the following semester? Or is this group the minority? From your experience, does this come down to largely effort, or is grading fairly subjective?
4) How is the program changing? Is it becoming more competitive? Are class sizes growing?

Thanks for your blog!

Hey NS! First of all, thank you for reading and taking the time to decipher my ramblings! Second of all, congratulations on your acceptance and long but fulfilling road towards becoming a dual-degree champion. Here’s my attempt to providing answers to some of your questions that might benefit others wondering the exact same things:

1) Both my friends (whose responses I elicited) and I graduated from the MPH program exactly one year ago so our perspectives can only be limited to that time period regarding the MPH program. Nevertheless, every department is always speckled with instructors that have a litany of teaching styles, structures, and methods to conducting a class. Some are a little more organized and deliberate in their methods, while others employ a more disorderly approach (not proficient in the art of timeliness, clarity of directions, or the setting of attainable goals). However, for the most part with one or two exceptions, most instructors make it fairly clear what is expected of you and what you need to do to excel. Learn how to gauge what the professor is looking for, curtail your expectations and efforts accordingly, and you’ll be fine.

2) You’re right. I had a high enough GPA to go straight into the program but I took another gap year. To make a long story short, I was getting a little tired of the way SGU was being run (which you’ll learn about in this post), decided I needed a break, deferred my acceptance, and broadened my re-application to US schools one more time so that I wouldn’t be left asking later in life those two lamentable words: what if? Obviously I found my answer, and this time around, I’m more acculturated and comfortable with my standing and the SGU culture to surpass the kinks in the system and forge ahead.

3) In my class, a majority of us did meet the minimum requirements to take part in the MD program. The best advice I can lend regarding doing well in the MPH program is to hit the ground running on first day of term 1. Those of us in the program that did not happen to meet these requirement were also the same ones that dulled their efforts from the outset and procrastinated, causing them to forever play catch-up in terms of their GPA’s, which only worked to their detriment. Do NOT only start working hard in the end (which could probably translate to a broader life lesson). Otherwise, even if you manage to scramble out of the MPH program, your prospect for succeeding in medical school will also look dismal.

The grading is fairly subjective. Like I said, with one or two horrendous exceptions, your expectations are neatly laid out of for you so the MPH to MD pathway is mostly yours to lose.

4) There were unconfirmed rumors that the program was trying to be come more stringent in terms of raising the bar for students to matriculate into the MD program after the MPH program received distinction and US accreditation, but I do not know to what extent this was implemented, if at all. However, that speaks volumes as to the strength and reputation of the program and the degree if they do not just want students that are narrowly invested in the program because of the MD. Do not let this scare you but instead, challenge and inspire you.


One thought on “Response: Questions Regarding MPH

  1. Although most people do get through MPH with the required GPA to move on to MD, future MPHers should definitely be fully aware that subjective grading and unprofessional conduct are signature characteristics of the SGU MPH department. It is not every professor, but there are enough of them that it is a trend within the department.

    Having an MPH degree is a great asset to a medical education, but spending an extra year at SGU is a huge investment. Weigh your options and evaluate what is most important to you before starting this program. If you got into SGU MPH, there are other Caribbean schools that will definitely accept you straight into med. If you only want to go to SGU to get your medical degree, navigate your way through MPH carefully and avoid teachers with the worst reputations. Take classes that are known to be “easier”. This is not copping out. With the subjective grading system, it’s the most strategic way to survive.

    Getting through MPH, even when you get the GPA required, can be highly frustrating because of the departments disorganization and other strong weaknesses, and I wish I had known this before I agreed to enter the program. I hope this helps any prospective students.

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