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Health Policy and Management questions + which schools to apply to?


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Hi everyone. I was hoping you could clarify for me what exactly the Health Policy focus allows one to do career-wise. I have read people saying that it's best to get an MPH 'in' something (like Biostatistics), opposed to more general tracks. I'm wondering if Health Promotion type tracks are the too-broad tracks people are referring to.

Some of the Health Policy programs I've looked at (especially the ones that don't separate policy and management into different tracks) say that it's best to have some undergraduate coursework in accounting and microeconomics, which I do not have.

My undergraduate degree is in nursing and I am interested in advocating for nursing to lawmakers, government agencies, etc.

So I guess my questions are these:

-Is the Health Policy and Management track what I'm looking for? I do not want to manage a health care organization.

-Should I avoid schools that do not further separate the Health Policy and Management track into Policy/ Management sub-tracks?

-Should I take introductory accounting and microeconomics classes before I apply?

-Do different schools have vastly different internship opportunities for Health Policy students? (E.g. would it be wise to apply to several schools in the Washington, D.C. area?)

I would really appreciate it if someone could give me an idea of what schools I am competitive for based on my stats right now. I am not going to apply for at least a year or two, so I have time to boost myself a bit and I'd like to use it wisely. When I look at the U.S. News rankings, I realize I'm not competitive for, say, Johns Hopkins, but am I competitive for Emory? BU? USF? Anything?

-Will be an RN at the time of application

-GRE 720Q (75%), 620V (89%)

-GPA 3.6 upper division, 3.5 overall, magna cum laude honors

-Some experience with nursing research as a research assistant

-1.5 years of public health work experience during college, will also have about 1-2 years of work experience at a county health department as a nurse

-won a couple of awards from undergrad institution, random volunteer experiences but nothing prolonged


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If you haven't come across it yet, here is a good place to find a lot of MPH-focused information: http://forums.studen...isplay.php?f=94

with that said, i have an MPH in "Health Policy and Management" (from Berkeley). I was working in healthcare before I started my program, but at the time I was interested in transitioning into health policy. while I'm interested in both worlds, I ended up going back into healthcare administration after graduating, but somewhat ironically will be going back to school for a PhD (in health services, which mostly a mix of health policy and epi) in the fall.

Health Policy encompasses so much that a lot of it comes down to what areas of policy you are most interested in. My take on health policy, or policy in general, is that you should be knowledgeable about the content (e.g., nursing policy for you) as well as the skills to analyze and/or propose policy (e.g., probably what you're trying to develop). I think you'll find that many programs that prepare graduates for doing work in policy generally require a reasonable amount of quantitative and analytical preparation: this will mean economics, statistics, and finance, not to mention epidemiology which you should be getting in pretty much any accredited MPH program. Courses such as accounting and other management-type classes certainly don't hurt (at least in my opinion, since I think they are skills that people should take into their careers regardless of what they do). As for taking accounting or econ prior to starting school, it can't hurt, but I doubt it would be a prerequisite for admission. I served on the admissions committee at my school and we placed a lot of weight on experience rather than looking for specific classes that people took. So if given the choice of taking an accounting class over getting some more work or volunteer experience, I would advise the latter.

For my MPH, the curriculum was intended to combine policy and management, unlike some programs at which you choose policy or management. Nevertheless, I felt that curriculum was more focused on the content (e.g., the health care system or health services, etc) than it was on some of the skills (especially analytical skills) used to develop and analyze policy. I wound up taking some quant analysis classes and public policy classes as electives though. when you look at programs take a look at the curriculum as well as what electives are available.

Since you may already be quite well-versed in your issues of interest, you may want to look for a program that focuses on the analytical skills. In such case, a health policy-specific program may be what you want to look for. Although I wouldn't discount the programs that offer both policy and management because many of the current management issues often related to the healthcare workforce (e.g., nursing - such as nurse-hospital relationships; nurse workforce planning). However, from the sounds of it, you probably wouldn't be too interested in a management-focused or business-focused program. Similarly, depending on what skillset you're looking to develop and what your level of expertise is on the content area, a biostats or epi emphasis may also work, although these are often very focused on the analysis of the data, rather than on policy. You may also want to look into MPP programs which will offer a policy-focused training.

How the school handles internships may really set them apart from one another. One thing to really look for is what type of support does the school offer to helping students find internships. Schools such as michigan, hopkins, and berkeley provide a lot of support to match students with internships, but I've also heard of schools where students are pretty much on their own. the more highly reputed schools tend to have connections with DC, so that is also something to keep in mind, but in the end, it is still generally up to the student. if you learn of an internship in DC, most of the times the school would not have a problem with you pursuing that. However, proximity can be very important especially for developing and maintaining a network. So if it is important for you to develop that network while you're in school, it may be worth while to consider the schools near DC.

As for your credentials, it seems to me that you would be a strong candidate for many programs, including Hopkins and Emory. As with most graduate programs, a lot of weight is given to the personal statement and the letters of recommendation, but your numbers would certainly not raise any red flags.

Edited by fangshopper
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  • 7 months later...

I will suggest you look at CMU Heinz school's Master in Health Care Policy and Management. It is a two year program, and has great career connections. There are three tracks on it, 1) economics and policy, 2) information technology and operations, and 3) management and organization. We have extracurricular groups in Health Policy, Health IT, Consulting, Nonprofit Management, etc. We have a LOT of faculty who are experts in health systems, health econ, historical accounts of health issues, etc. Many courses are project driven. Plus, the degree is transferable, teaching real skills that would apply in a variety of fields, which, combined with Pittsburgh's stellar-ranked UPMC hospital system and CMU's incredible policy and technology reputations, makes a great combo.


For the record, I'm in the MSPPM, not the MSHCPM program, but I have friends in this program who love it.

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  • 4 months later...

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