Introspective posts aren’t so much what this blog is about, but I can’t promise they won’t happen from time to time. This is one. You may wish to skip it if that is not your thing.
So, I’m pursuing this certificate in LGBT health at Drexel, and I’ve had my eye on their DrPH in Health Policy and Social Justice. Most places that have a focus area on health policy have something like “health policy and management” which is not so much me. Health policy plus social justice, though? Might as well have my name written all over it. It’s the program that has gotten me the most excited of all the ones I’ve checked out. It’s the one that “makes [my] eyes glitter” (Heinrich, 1994, p. 138).
So, when they had a day-long info session last weekend, it only made sense to go check it out.
During the first couple of hours, when we heard about all the projects people have done or are still working on, I was practically salivating. Now, one of the things (which I already knew, but which was reiterated over the course of the day) that you have to keep in mind when looking at doctoral programs is what the faculty are doing. Most other programs I’ve checked out, my reaction is, “Wow, that is really cool. I’m glad someone is out there doing that.” Looking at Drexel’s faculty projects/research interests? “Wow, I seriously want to be a part of that!” The latter is the “eye-glitter” thing I mentioned earlier. So, I was well and truly sold.
When we broke out by department/specialty is when I got the opportunity I had been waiting for to ask some logistical questions. Yes, it’s a full-time program, but I’ve seen a number of definitions of “full time,” so what does that mean? Alas, it means pretty much needing to be in Philly for most/all weekdays (and probably some weekends), which is slightly more than I’d been hoping for. (Admittedly, I’d been hoping that, as a “practical doctorate,” the schedule might be similar to the Executive MPH, while acknowledging that was sort of unlikely.)
The other practical question was whether I should do the Epidemiology and Biostatistics certificate prior to applying. I had a feeling the answer to that would be yes. My masters is in nursing, albeit with a focus area in public health. That means I got one semester of epi. Zero biostats. It’s probably a good idea to beef both of those up before attempting any kind of doctoral work in public health. Unsurprisingly, the answer was yes.
After a day or two of moping that this was going to be impossible, and finally talking it over with the spouse, there is A Plan. It is, in fact, the plan that another nurse and I came up with that day, as we are both in similar circumstances. The Plan is to essentially punt for a year and do the Epi and Biostats certificate while finding a way to manage living in Philly (at least during the week) for the two years of coursework we would have to do before sitting our exams. (The dissertation piece can be done with a lot more flexibility, though I would not be shocked to end up eyebrows-deep in a Philly-based project.)
Said Plan includes three sub-plans that involve getting my financial ducks in a row, getting my physical health to the best it can be, and getting my apartment in something that resembles order. (I may have slight ferret tendencies. There is stuff that does not need to be here and needs to find a new home. Ooh, maybe those are dragon tendencies? Except my “hoard” is not so much with the gold and diamonds. More like a stash of various crafting supplies and books that got lots of use at one point in time but have been gathering dust of late.)
Living in Philly … is not an appealing prospect, which is probably not fair to the city. I have a couple of friends who used to live there and really, really did not experience it as a great place to live. But their experience may not be my experience. It’s a big city. (Okay, that’s a point in its disfavor for this country mouse, but I have lived in a big city and survived just fine.) There are probably any number of types of experiences one can have there. So I need to ditch any negative expectations or, really, any expectations at all.
There are pluses that I observed. Philly (or at least University City within Philly) is very bike-friendly. There are bikes you can borrow (rent?) on street corners. Granted, this only works in favorable weather, and if one’s knees cooperate with pedaling, but I like seeing it. Okay, maybe that’s the one thing I really had a chance to observe outside the university itself. I didn’t actually leave myself much (any) time for exploring the city before hopping back on a train after the info day. But it’s a good thing, and there are probably many more good things that I simply didn’t give myself time to see.
The main thing, though? This university, more specifically this program, definitely “makes [my] eyes glitter” (Heinrich, 1994, p. 38). And that means it’s worth the work it’s going to take to even be ready to apply, and then to actually be there. There was never any question whether the work of the program would be worth it, but if there had been, that was answered with a resounding, “YES!” So, apparently I’m doing this thing, starting with getting The Plan and its various subplans going.
Heinrich, K. T., Scherr, M. W. (1994). Peer mentoring for reflective teaching: A model for nurses who teach. Nurse Educator, 19(4), 36-41.