The LSE's International Health Policy MSc program is ideal for those students who are looking for a broad understanding of health systems and financing. The material taught in the classroom, and the experiences gained outside, provide a rich and rewarding exposure to a field that, while focused, is ever increasing in relevance.
After studying health policy as an undergraduate in the United States, I saw this program as the ideal way to extend my understanding of health systems beyond the borders of the U.S. and to gain a comparative understanding of other nations' health systems. This goal was certainly met, and in my current position as a Staff Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, I have been able to draw on my international exposure regularly. Most fundamentally, an understanding of different paradigms of health care delivery have allowed me to apply successful elements of European reforms to American problems and to identify unintended consequences of policy proposals, using the past experiences of European countries as a guide.
The cornerstone of the program is the Jean Monnet Module in European and Comparative Health Policy, which provides a strong framework by which students can analyze and compare the surprisingly diverse healthcare systems across Europe. This understanding is not limited in application to Europe, however, and can be used to examine almost any health system in the developed world. This course is ideally structured for students new to the study of health policy AND for those with significant prior experience. The other modules allow students to focus on areas of specific interest. If a student is new to health policy, there are good introductory modules. In addition, for experienced students, there are great opportunities to dive into sector-specific modules (the pharmaceutical industry, the hospital sector, etc.) or to develop more advanced analytic skills (cost-effectiveness analysis and other quantitative methods).
The LSE professors are leaders in their fields and are able to teach material that is germane to current public policy debates. They are surprisingly open and accessible to students, their questions and their concerns. The LSE department of Health and Social Care is also a great resource. As a leading institution in the field, it provides great opportunities for conducting research with faculty while enrolled in the program. The summer internship also provides a unique way to gain practical health care experience while writing a dissertation that, by virtue of being a part of the internship, is related to the real world.
In all, my experiences at the LSE far exceeded my expectations. I met my educational goals, and feel more prepared than ever to contribute in the health policy arena. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in health systems or health systems research.