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Student profiles and views

David Brogan
M.Sc. International Health Policy 2005-2006 (US)

I count the year I spent at LSE as one of the most influential in my life. Professionally, it gave me future contacts in the field of health policy around the world. Personally, it allowed me to explore one of the most exciting cities in the world while obtaining a post-graduate education beyond compare.

The size of the International Health Policy program ensured a diverse range of viewpoints, accompanied by informal and personal interactions with leading faculty in small group settings. I recall a discussion our group had about health policy in South Africa. As we bantered back and forth about the merits of different policy choices, our group leader pointedly turned to one of the students and asked his opinion. As we were to find out, that "student" had recently worked in the health ministry in that country and provided invaluable insight into the reality of the system.

London is an incredible place to visit, much less spend an entire year. From nightlife, to cultural exhibits, to historic treasure troves, the opportunities for exploration are abundant. A short walk from LSE will bring you to Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery, to the world famous British Museum, or even to the Houses of Parliament, where some students undertake internships.

The faculty consists of leading experts in their field who are not only engaged in academic discourse, but lend health policy advice to governments and NGO's across the globe. I was given the chance to work directly with the co-director of LSE Health, Professor Elias Mossialos - a collaboration which has led to multiple publications, including one in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

The strengths of the LSE program lie in its location, the reputation of the school at large, and the diverse group of students and faculty it can attract. I can think of no other institution so uniquely equipped to train the next generation of health policy leaders. This one year has given me a new lens with which to view the world, and kindled a passion to help change it.

Florian P. Kreisz
M.Sc. International Health Policy 2005-2006 (Germany)


With a background in medicine I took up the MSc-Studies in International Health Policy in 2005. Characterising the experiences I have made throughout the program the following terms most certainly apply: enriching, challenging, contextualising and stimulating.

ENRICHING. The fast and colourful spirit of England's capital city, the supportive atmosphere and academic richness of the LSE campus create an environment in which I have been able to encounter and deepen various aspects of academic and personal life. The world's largest social science library, open doors of professors and tutors, colleagues from all over the globe constitute - in one word: opportunities. To take these opportunities not only to built up academic competence within the health policy field but also to meet interesting people and make new friends was indeed enriching.

CHALLENGING. To question fundamental ideas about the foundations of health policy, to be questioned with respect to academic reasoning, logic and systematic discourse was a general challenge. To fulfil the aspiration of a centre of excellence, to integrate the multifaceted and highly complex nature of health policy issues and of course to meet all given deadlines were more specific challenges throughout the program.

CONTEXTUALISING. Coming from medicine the course enabled myself to understand the underlying principles and dilemmas of health systems and policies. To gain insight into the different prevailing and upcoming health policy paradigms, to perform exact and differentiated analyses of various practical problems and of course to practice "the art of finding second best solutions all the time" (Mossialos, 2006) form the basis of an increasingly self-confident and independent thinking within the context of health systems.

STIMULATING. Having finished the program the above mentioned experiences and insights now culminate in the deep wish to take part in the further development of the academic health policy field and to contribute to fruitful practical solutions towards more efficient, high quality and sustainable health systems. The ultimate aim of health policy: "to improve the health of the population" (Abel-Smith 1994) has become a motivational driving force for any further biographic steps I might take.

Irene Maragos
MSc Health, Population and Society 2005-2006(Canada)

My year at the LSE was just as expected: intense, "positively" stressful and in retrospect very rewarding. Looking back I wish I could have taken more advantage of everything the school and city had to offer. But part laziness, and part having to choose from the unlimited choice of class and public lectures, seminars, conferences, parties etc I tried nevertheless to keep track of everything that was going on, mostly at LSE Health.

Apart from the academic experience, I can honestly say that I've met the wittiest, most cultivated and down to earth people at the school. Whether we were studying for exams or just chilling out after classes, we always had a good laugh amongst ourselves. A sense of humour is very important. Overall, it was an excellent year.

I was enrolled in the MSc Health, Population and Society and the course was very stimulating intellectually. The course material was not too general nor was it too specific, just right. If there is anything I learned is to think outside the box and to never accept the status quo. "There is always room for improvement" as our professors would continuously say to us. Would I do it all over again? Definitely.

Yoshihiko SANO (YOSHI) (Canada)
MSc International Health Policy, 2005-2006

Assistant Director, International Affairs Division, Minister's Secretariat Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan

My experience of working in Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare were considerable (MHLW) but my point of view was rather limited in the field of pharmaceuticals. Through taking lectures and seminars in the MSc International Health Policy and the courses offered therein, I could expand my perspectives and come to consider wider views in terms of political, economic, cultural and social angles. It is my belief that this experiences have lead to more qualified policy implementations in the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and, hopefully in the future, international organizations. Now I am working for bilateral economic dialogues in the field of social security issues such as medical insurance system and regulations of pharmaceuticals between the US and Japan, or EU and Japan, in Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan.

Samia Saad, MSc.
International Health Policy, 2005-06 (Jordanian/German/British)

After many years as an academic scientist and a few years working in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical policy and strategy, I wanted to move into the broader arena of health policy and economics. To this end, the LSE Masters in International Health Policy (IHP) afforded me the best introduction to this field of work and opened up many career opportunities.

The IHP programme itself offers a good range of course choices with some of the world's leading experts in their field of study, including the possibility of a couple of complimentary courses at LSHTM or outside of the department of Social Policy at LSE. The core lectures were supplemented with frequent seminars, where smaller groups engaged in more in depth analysis and discourse on topical and often controversial issues. This is where the diversity of backgrounds and knowledge of fellow classmates came to the fore and was for me an enjoyable highlight to the truly international learning experience.

The summer placement scheme with top public and private health institutions such as Government departments of health, cost-effectiveness organisations, international NGOs and pharmaceutical industry etc is invaluable and unique, one of the facets that attracted me to this above other programmes. I am now working on a project with the World Health Organisation on policies that impact on access to essential medicines in North Africa & Eastern Mediterranean Region countries, a result and extension of my summer placement. I have finally found a way to work in health policy on global medicines issues but also a bit closer to home.

With the academic challenge of the health policy courses, it's important not to forget to take full advantage of some of the some of the exciting extracurricular opportunities at LSE. At your doorstep are lectures by Nobel-prize winners and renowned, world class speakers in the fields of politics, economics, finance and development, among others. Not to mention the annual Oktober Beer Fest of the German Society! I would say that working with the Health Society to organise an annual trip to major health NGOs in Geneva, as well as help launch a Health Alumni Association, definitely contributed to my personal growth and education as part of the LSE Health Masters experience.

Shannon Finnegan
IHP(HE) 2006 (US)

As an American with an undergraduate degree and work experience in Economics, I was delighted to find that LSE offered a Health Economics MSc concentration. Due to the small number of trained economists in the International Health Policy programme, the economic theory presented in course lectures was not extraordinarily intense but I found that by listening to my fellow students, mostly trained medical professionals, question and critique the theoretical assumptions that I had accepted without questioning for so many years, I was reminded of the challenges inherent in applying the field of economics to healthcare policy. I also benefited from the weekly seminars organized by the faculty during which a small group of us with previous training in economics presented and discussed technical papers from the health economics literature.

Although I was originally attracted to LSE's academic reputation, I now believe it is the international focus of the health policy courses that set LSE apart from the graduate programmes I considered attending in the US. The faculty, the assigned reading materials, and my fellow students presented a diverse global perspective that extended my health policy knowledge far beyond the US borders. I use that knowledge everyday in my current position as a researcher for a pharmaco-economics consultancy which undertakes several projects in both North America and the European Union. I am particularly grateful for the LSE summer placement scheme as it provided a way of combining both work experience and my dissertation research and served as a stepping stone to a full-time position.

Preeti Jha
MSc International Health Policy, 2005-6 (India)

With a background in Microbiology and Health Sciences, and after participating in a nationwide research project by Indian Council of Medical Research, my curiosity to understand the mechanisms of designing and evaluating healthcare systems motivated me to apply for the programme International Health Policy at LSE.

The LSE Experience

From the Faculty, to the wide diaspora of students to the facilities at LSE, LARGER THAN LIFE is the effect that one feels when s/he joins LSE. With its acclaimed, renowned Faculty each a stalwart in her/his field and an opportunity to interact, learn from their experience was what had been my primary motive in joining LSE and I sure did get more than what I had expected. With students from a multitude of backgrounds, it not only provided an interesting mix but gave insights to cultural sensitivity and social issues in each region of the world. And how can I forget the famed library and the invaluable treasure that it held for me and many more of generations to come.

Beyond the facilities that the Centre and Department extend, added advantages are the various guest lectures from imminent personalities from the industry and various institutions. The organized visit to WHO, GAVI and WTO not only provide a first hand information but also help establish contacts and give a bird's eye view of actual dealings. Speakers from the industry provide a practical base to the theoretical knowledge and helps analyze issues and live cases.

What excited me the most was the course at offer, its extensive coverage of relevant topics and how through scientific and methodical approach it tries to develop insights and inroads and hence develop amongst students an analytical bend towards the subject matter. Think, think & think....was the core mantra of our lecturers.

Overall LSE represents an excellent combination of where theory and practice make a perfect match, provides an individual an industry perspective, opens vast vista of information and helps develop an individual both professionally and personally.

Arthur Schwartz MD JD MSc ( US)
MSc International Health Policy

I am an American citizen who after 28 years of practicing surgery, and 4 of practicing health law decided to try and educate myself on international health policy / economics to see if I could make a difference in one of the more pressing issues of our time. I was surprised at first that I was by far the oldest in my class (58), but frankly this never really presented a problem much to my surprise. The absolutely best thing about my year's experience was to be able to exchange ideas with intelligent and vibrant professionals who were my fellow students. The faculty was superb and very available. I found the educational process at LSE much more demanding than in the US, and came away with an educational experience that fulfilled my every expectation.

My degrees have now allowed me to assume a position as health consultant to the Maryland State Legislature, as well as the Republican National Party.

Claire Curran
HPS student 2000-01

The year I spent as a HPS student was so positive for me, that I stayed for a further 4 years as a researcher. In fact, as a part-time PhD student in the Department of Social Policy, I'm still enjoying the challenges and opportunities that LSE can offer.

I am continually reminded of the volume of knowledge and understanding I acquired during my MSc year. Some areas of study that at the time I didn't think were particularly relevant, I have now come back to both in my work in the pharmaceutical industry and in my PhD work. I work as a health outcomes advisor for Eli Lilly and Co.

During my year as a HPS student I was exposed to world renowned academics as well as leaders from industry, governments and international agencies. There are fantastic opportunities available at LSE due to the reputation of the school and the quality of the teaching. My fellow students also provided opportunities for stimulating debate, diverse discussions, studying and lasting friendships.

I thoroughly enjoyed the HPS course. It spans the range of theory, evidence and practical skills in health policy, population studies and demography. All of the courses can be hard going in places but the effort is worth it. In fact, that goes for all aspects of studying at LSE, the more your put into your studying, friendships, learning and enjoying London, the more you get out of it. The opportunities are there for the taking.

Kelly Steele
MSc Health Population and Society 2005-2006

The HPS program offers students the unique opportunity to study both health policy and demography providing a holistic view of how policy development and implementation can impact a population. LSE offers its health students the ability to take courses from a variety of Departments providing students with a multidisciplinary approach to health and social care.

I'm now living in Canada, working as the Information Officer for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre, a department of the Canadian Public Health Association, a national not-for-profit organization.

For me the quality of the faculty combined with the diversity of the student body was the most important part of the program. Many of the professors have worked both nationally and internationally in a variety of settings, contributing to major research in both health policy and demography. The high calibre of the Faculty, a distinct benefit of the LSE, was only furthered by the opportunity to study with students from around the globe from wide-ranging backgrounds.

Overall, LSE offers a comprehensive, first-rate masters program that prepares its graduates for a multitude of positions in the field of health and social care.

Dewi Ismajani Puradiredja
MSc in Health, Population and Society 2002-2003
MPhil/PhD candidate in Social Policy

During my undergraduate studies I developed a strong interest in health-related issues within the field of development. The MSc Health, Population and Society, which had only been introduced the previous year, was the ideal programme for me. The programme is well designed, providing a solid overview of health and population-related issues through its inter-disciplinary approach. Depending on their respective interests, students can choose to focus either on less-developed or developed countries providing a welcome flexibility. In addition, it allowed me to further specialise in an issue I had always had particularly at heart: HIV/AIDS and its health policy implications.

LSE undoubtedly provides an academically excellent and challenging environment. Despite the standard of expectation, my masters degree has been a rewarding experience and laid the foundation for my current doctoral research for a PhD in Social Policy. One of my former tutors is now my principal supervisor who has always been very supportive and approachable. When I was asked this summer by a prospective postgraduate student whether I would recommend HPS, I said I would, without reservation.

Clay Ackerly
MSc in International Health Policy 2001-2002

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.

Jai Shah
MSc in International Health Policy 2001-2002

What I found particularly valuable about the IHP programme at LSE was, in a word, diversity. Students from various areas of the world were placed together; our differing backgrounds - both educational and cultural - and our diverging goals created a crucible that formed the framework for engaging dialect, discussion, and discourse. Similarly, the broad spectrum of age groups in the class allowed us to learn from each other in a different set of ways. The wide variety of courses available, combined with the ability to take modules at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, offered a diversity that is unparalleled. Finally, given my specialized background and interests in a particular area of health policy, the course organizers were very useful in helping me find an internship that was suitable for my specific aims.

Puneet Sandhu
MSc in International Health Policy 2001-2002

My time in the International Health Policy program at the LSE provided me with a new way of looking at the challenges in health care policymaking in my own country. Understanding the foundation and development of various health care systems throughout the world combined with a strong grounding in economics now proves invaluable to my work as a health care advocate in California.

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