“The degree will definitely help me as someone from a developing country to get a career in working on Malaria, TB, and HIV” – Henry reflects on the MSc Tropical Medicine and International Health

Henry Za Lal Lian, from Myanmar (Burma), spoke to us about his time studying the MSc Tropical Medicine and International Health (TMIH), our specialised programme for doctors interested in practicing medicine in tropical and low- and middle-income countries. He shared the skills he’s learned, some tips for successful studies and the fun times he has had at LSHTM.

With classmates outside the LSHTM gates

Hi Henry, can you please tell us a bit about your academic and professional background, and why you decided to apply for the MSc TMIH?
After three years of providing family planning services in the most underdeveloped state in Myanmar, I needed a year to cool off and focus on crafting my skills as a medical professional dwelling in wider public health issues. I chose the MSc TMIH at LSHTM, because as a medical doctor, I didn’t want to leave clinical life completely just yet, and still wanted the chance to explore all the international public health tools, skills and knowledge.

Can you talk us through how the programme is structured, and tell us about the teaching on the course?
The first term was for a Professional Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The three months were filled with exciting lectures from people who are actually working on the ground, some of them flying into London just to give us insightful lectures. The lab sessions with Claire and her team on Tuesdays and Thursdays have got to be the highlight of each week. The second and third terms are where you can customise how you want your year to go, with a very wide range of modules to choose from. I steered away from the clinical modules at this point but really it’s up to the students, which is great asset to have in such an intensive year.

Henry wraps up warm in London

What are you planning to do next, and how will the course help in your career?
The degree will definitely help me as someone from a developing country to get a career in working on Malaria, TB, and HIV; in a broader sense, sexual and reproductive health. These are the areas in dire need of development for moving towards the sustainable development goals.

What skills have you gained from the course?
If I had to single out a few, I would have to say reviewing literature, practical research skills, designing a study protocol and designing control programmes.

First day of school

What will you remember most about your time at LSHTM?
I think it has to be my course mates. They’re the smartest lot I’ve seen and I couldn’t help but be inspired by them. Plus, the TMIH course had our own lunchtime frisbee competitions in Russell Square and we also did “On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink”. We had one cricket tournament but surprisingly, it turned out so bloody and rough that we never repeated it!

What advice would you give to anyone considering studying the MSc TMIH?
Personally, it was the most intense educational year for me and I made the mistake of not taking it slow and socialising in the first term. My one piece of advice would be that although it will be intense, engaging and challenging at times, make some time for cooling off, kicking back and relaxing with a good friend or two. Also, communicate with module organisers when you’re at the module fair. The key is in you getting the most out of your year and it all depends on your decisions during that module selection. The main library gets busy quickly by term 2 and 3, but don’t worry – just get your headphones and head over to one of the computer rooms scattered across LSHTM to avoid having to race for a free table in the library!

If you’re considering studying the MSc Tropical Medicine and International Health, you can find out more, register your interest and apply on the course webpage: bit.ly/2o6FpA3

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