• Fernando Zacarias

The Tower and the Battlefield

Updated: May 25, 2019

Dear Multipodian:

One of the most common questions that Mentées ask is: “Should I get more education (e.g. a PhD, MD, DrPH, or DSc degree) to increase my chances of getting a good job, or should I start working in the field after graduation, to get more “real world” experience”?

In other words: What’s best, the Ivory Tower or the Battlefield?

This is how I approach this question:

1) Do you have both the job and academic options or only one?

If you have both options and money is not an insurmountable obstacle:

Go with your heart first!

2) For your professional career it is always better to have at least two years of "real world experience," even if it is through an unpaid internship in a prestigious institution (but never accept unpaid work in a private firm or for-profit organization, even if it is in an NGO and you are Mother Teresa).

3) If you are more inclined to the academic path, or if in your country or in your area of specialty (e.g. research or academics) you have better chances in the job market if you have a PhD or MD or DSc, then go for the advanced degree first (there are usually opportunities for financial help from various sources).

4) If you are going to work internationally, you don't need to go beyond a Master’s degree from a recognized university to become part of "the club" and be competitive almost anywhere. However, it is absolutely essential that you have a Master’s degree if you want to reach as high as you can and deserve in your career in Global Health.

Just make sure that when you are on the Field, you look at the Tower as a source of Knowledge…and when you are in the Tower, you look at the Field as a source of Proof.

Thank you for reading this; comment, if you wish, DZ


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