Centre for Public Health

Liverpool John Moores University

Public Health Institute - Liverpool John Moores University

World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention

Part of the Liverpool John Moores University

“The lesson is…”

4 September 2017 | Howard Reed

“The lesson is…”

Anyone with a manager will probably recognise that situation where you’re enthusiastically presented with a ‘great opportunity’, but all you hear is a lot more work is coming your way! Two years ago my manager announced “I think you should enrol on our Public Health Masters programme”. My initial response was a slightly less than enthusiastic “I’ll think about it”. It was, after all, many years since I’d written an academic essay, sat an exam, or worse still completed a dissertation project. What if I couldn’t do it? To quote from the philosophy of Homer (Simpson): “…you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try[1]. However, that’s the other thing you might already know about managers; they aren’t so good at taking ‘No’ for an answer. So after some persuasion, I reluctantly agreed, “Okay, but I’ll just take a couple of modules, I’ll see how it goes”.

So now having just completed my final project on the Public Health Masters programme, and reflecting on the last two years, I can appreciate how much I’ve learnt. Yes, the course did involve more work, but it also built on my existing knowledge and experience. The lectures have been a great forum for discussion, and I’ve had the chance to hear many really interesting lecturers and guest speakers. And what about all those essays? Well, luckily there are some really great study support sessions available at LJMU. I’d particularly recommend the session for ‘critical essay writing’, which was one of the first support sessions I attended. As a result, I know how to structure and write those essay assignments.

In the introduction to his book ‘The Health Gap’ Michael Marmot[2] talks about his experience whilst training as a doctor in the 1960’s. Realising that both behaviour and health are linked to people’s social conditions, he observed that “treating [the patient] with pills might help to put out the fire. But should we not be in the business of fire prevention as well [2]. This revelation for Michael Marmot came with the realisation that is was possible for him to study how social conditions affected health and disease. ‘Epidemiology’ which is often referred to as ‘the cornerstone’ of public health, considers the distribution and determinants of health-related states, and the application of epidemiology is concerned with the control of diseases and other health problems.

The revelation for me was the realisation that these concepts of public health policy, epidemiology and research, that all featured as modules in my course of study were also already part of my current job. Working within the Public Health Institute’s intelligence and surveillance team, our monitoring and data collection systems provide intelligence and evidence to inform public health policy and practice.

Whether like me you’re already working in a Public Health related field, or if you’re looking to start a career in Public Health, our study programmes at the Public Health Institute [3] are a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge. Whether you’re interested in an Undergraduate, Postgraduate or even a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) [4] course, they build on your existing knowledge and experience and are really valuable for either your current role in Public Health or the one you aspire to achieve.

So “the lesson is never try” – you might surprise yourself.



[1] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1561004/Simpsons-quotes-enter-new-Oxford-dictionary.html
[2] Marmot, M. (2016). The Health Gap: The challenge of an unequal world. London: Bloomsbury.
[3] www.ljmu.ac.uk/research/centres-and-institutes/public-health-institute/teaching-and-learning
[4] www.ljmu.ac.uk/study/cpd/public-health