MPH In Focus: Nazia Amin
Tell us about your background and what led you to be interested in the field of Public Health.
Since I was young, I have been very passionate about becoming a doctor and serving the people of my country. I started working toward my goal, and in 2006, I graduated from Sher-E-Bangla Medical College, Barisal. After graduation, I received post-graduation training for a fellowship in Gynecology and Obstetrics. During that period, I came to understand that in most cases, the bad condition of patients is the result of their rudimentary understanding of basic health care and restricted access to the available medical facilities. People could live healthier lives if they take precautions against disease and illness. This is especially true for those who are poor and do not get any education. During the last few years, I had the opportunity to explore the health care system of Bangladesh by working in different setups, which compelled me to think about the importance and need of preventive medicine. I gradually learned the importance of public health. It changed my perspective as it made me think that it’s our responsibility to make people aware about various health aspects for prevention of disease rather than just focusing on treating them. There has been a lot of improvement in the last few decades, but still the health infrastructure of Bangladesh needs to develop further. Proper health education is not available in all areas. There are very few people in Bangladesh who have had the opportunity to obtain basic or advanced training in the field of public health. Highly qualified individuals in the field of public health are required. I have taken on the challenge of serving our community and participating in this challenging field.
What attracted you to Hofstra University’s MPH program?
When I expressed my interest in pursuing a public health degree to my family, one of my cousins who lives here in the U.S. informed me about Hofstra. I explored the website and learned about the program and the faculty, the campus location, etc. which were persuasive. I communicated with the faculty via email; I was constantly in touch with them and received prompt responses to every question. Their welcoming attitude made me choose Hofstra. After I came here, I found all the faculty members to be amazingly helpful, especially Dr. Kyriacou, our program director. She has been the most influential person for me at Hofstra and has been my mentor.
Tell us about your relevant experiences outside of the classroom and your internship at NYC-based Public Health Solutions.
As I have only been in the US for a few months, it has taken me some time to transition. I have attended several club meetings with the Society of Public Health Advocates (SOPHA), which promotes health and wellness in the surrounding community and holds a number of seminars where health professionals share their experiences and provide guidance to students to help shape their career goals. In the next year, I plan to engage in activities where I can directly interact with the community.
I have also started my internship with the Public Health Solutions (PHS). I am working with the Food and Nutrition Program unit staff, who oversees the organization’s Neighborhood WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) Program, to improve health and nutrition, specifically among women, infants, and children,. The primary tasks include corner store assessment; interviewing business owners and distributors and establishing a relationship with them to have perceptible impact on the health of the target population; and on-the-ground mapping of neighborhoods surrounding PHS WIC centers to assist in the development of new strategies to improve health and nutrition. I also assist with community outreach. This internship is a new learning experience for me as it is completely different from what I have been doing so far in the clinical field. It helps me to understand how individuals interact with the food system and how social, economic, and cultural considerations around food access and food choices influence individual and population level health.
What are your long term professional goals and how will the program help you reach them?
My long-term goal is to address community health problems in Bangladesh using integrated approaches such as a combination of health programs with women’s literacy, nutrition and sanitation etc. to improve their health status. I believe, if I combine my academic background and clinical experience with a more detailed and comprehensive knowledge of public health, I can make a more meaningful contribution to the people of Bangladesh. I also want to run my own non-profit organization which will help the women and children in underserved areas to get preventive support, health education and counseling regarding their health issues.