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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39020. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039020. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Formal public health education and career outcomes of medical school graduates.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.



Few data are available evaluating the associations of formal public health education with long-term career choice and professional outcomes among medical school graduates. The objective of this study was to determine if formal public health education via completion of a masters of public health (MPH) degree among US medical school graduates was associated with early and long-term career choice, professional satisfaction, or research productivity.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study in 1108 physicians (17.1% completed a MPH degree) who had 10-20 years of follow-up post medical school graduation. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted.


Compared to their counterparts with no MPH, medical school graduates with a MPH were more likely to have completed a generalist primary care residency only [relative risk (RR) 1.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.35-2.29], obtain employment in an academic institution (RR 1.81; 95% CI 1.33-2.37) or government agency (RR 3.26; 95% CI 1.89-5.38), and practice public health (RR 39.84; 95% CI 12.13-107.38) or primary care (RR 1.59; 95% CI 1.18-2.05). Furthermore, medical school graduates with a MPH were more likely to conduct public health research (RR 8.79; 95% CI: 5.20-13.82), receive NIH or other federal funding (RR 3.11, 95% CI 1.74-5.33), have four or more peer-reviewed publications (RR 2.07; 95% CI 1.56-2.60), and have five or more scientific presentations (RR 2.31, 95% CI 1.70-2.98).


Formal public health education via a MPH was associated with career choice and professional outcomes among physicians.

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