School of Population Health

Successful placement of our international alumnus!

Image Nikita Bathla

International student alumnus from the School of Population Health (SPH), Nikita Bathla, has just secured a position as a research assistant for The George Institute for Global Health (TGI) in her home country of India. This comes after completing her dual Master’s of International Public Health and Health Management (MIPH/MHM) at UNSW this year, having commenced in July 2018. The Master’s gave Nikita an opportunity to intern at the George Institute, which proved instrumental in her full-time placement after her graduation.

At TGI, Nikita is contributing to a range of COVID-19 related studies, and is taking part in research on non-communicable diseases and health systems, with plans to take the plunge into pursuing a PhD later on.

Nikita speaks about her degree at the SPH and how it led to where she is now:

What drew you to pursuing the International Public Health and Health Management (MIPH/MHM) programs at the School of Population Health?

The reason I chose the program at the SPH is because it was the only dual degree program in both public health as well as management in the world. Having previously done a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in India as an undergraduate, I found that I yearned to make a difference at the systemic and population levels. Although having a medical degree was not a requisite for the MIPH/MHM program at UNSW, my MBBS gave me a solid base on which to build my research career on.

How did the MIPH/MHM equip you for gainful employment and your current position as research assistant at TGI?

The program offered a wide range of opportunities which boosted my resume. It allowed me to broaden my perspective on health by learning in a new environment and interacting with experts from different health settings. This enabled me to gain a broader understanding of health and come up with ways to apply what I learned to my own setting, back home in India.

As a young doctor, pursuing the dual degree gave me the flexibility to explore both public health and health management and choose which career suited me best. Now that I have finished the dual degree and secured a position with TGI, I think employers look for management and leadership expertise, and these skills definitely boosted my application.

Another great offering of the SPH is the internship program. The internship program was perfect for me, as through it I was able to secure an internship at TGI and gain experience in India. The internship worked out very well for me, as I was able to build a network within the organisation and ultimately translate my role into a full-time research position.

How did you go about getting the most out of your degree at the SPH? Did you gain any important research experience?

When I started my master’s, I tailored my electives in a way that allowed me maximum exposure to my areas of interest. I divided the courses into a leadership and management module, a research module, a health economics module, and an international health module. This way, I made sure I covered all bases to able to pursue positions in any domain I wished to.

In early 2019, through an announcement in the student newsletter, I volunteered as a research assistant for a faculty member at the school. It was my first time doing any kind of research, and I went into it with a clean slate. The six-month position exposed me to designing and implementing research, and I was hooked. It was that experience that prompted me to choose public health as my specialisation, and that allowed me to apply for research-related roles further on.

What can you tell prospective international students about pursuing a degree at the SPH?

UNSW offers a range of great experiences – both for professional and personal development. There are multiple opportunities for networking within your professional and cultural communities. For me, a key lesson from my time at UNSW was that opportunities come knocking from the most unexpected places. Out-of-class activities like volunteering, peer mentoring and student leadership roles gave me the opportunity to develop soft skills, which were extremely helpful during interviews. UNSW equipped me to be a well-rounded master’s degree holder, and that’s exactly what organisations are looking for!

Contact Name : 
School of Population Health, UNSW Medicine