Student to Community Health worker: RGU Experience

RGU alumna Suzanne Thomson obtained a master’s in Public Health and Promotion and is now pursuing her dream career as Community Health Worker. She shares more about her role and how her postgraduate course helped her in acquiring essential knowledge.

Doing a Master’s degree

Most people can agree that the end of an undergraduate degree brings along an underlying feeling of uneasiness of what is going to come after student life ends. Questions like – ‘What job do I look for?’ and ‘What do I actually want to do?’ arise.

I completed my undergraduate degree at RGU in Applied Sport and Exercise Science. It was through this course, and the placements that came along with it, that I realised I had an interest in public health and health promotion.

I became aware that RGU offered an MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion and decided this was the next step I wanted to take towards gaining my dream career.

Career after RGU

Since completing my MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion, I have been lucky enough to secure a full-time job as a Community Health Worker with Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership.

The job allows me to be involved in various activities making my everyday very interesting and challenging. It can be a little difficult to explain an average day for me. One day, I could be assisting a group at a community kitchen to teach food skills, promote the importance of nutrition and discuss how best how to eat on a budget. The next I could be out on a health walk signposting participants to various other groups which may help to reduce social isolation, increase physical activity or just be something of interest to them. The day after I could be in a meeting with community members, colleagues and partners to discuss the start up of a new health and wellbeing initiative through the Health Improvement Fund at a Community Centre and it goes on like that.

Course experience

The MSc Public Health and Health Promotion course was great in providing me with theory, knowledge and skills to make my hope of working within this sector a reality. The first semester introduced the basic (but still complex) principles of Public Health and Health Promotion with a focus upon Health Inequalities. As I now work within a community setting, I often come face-to-face with these inequalities, allowing me to recognise how the theory fits into practice.

The course also focused upon challenges (which there can be many!) and approaches to address population health. There was an insight into health at all levels; global right down to community. Despite the year flying by and sometimes feeling like there was not enough time to do anything – assignment stress always crept up quickly.

Why choose RGU?

The MSc helped to equip me with a wealth of knowledge and skills which can be transferred into real life. I was lucky enough to be in a diverse class with students from Africa, Singapore, and other parts of UK. It was amazing to hear how everyone could relate to the theory and case studies so differently due to the variation in life and work experiences. This also helped to consolidate that everyone will experience situations differently due to social determinants and past experience.

I would really recommend for anyone who has an interest in public health and/or health promotion to study at RGU. Not only does it have a beautiful campus, but also such supportive lecturers who are always happy to help. They helped to make the year such a positive experience through interactive teaching methods and the sharing of their own professional experiences. I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice to continue my studies at RGU by completing the MSc Public Health and Health Promotion and could not recommend it enough!

Suzanne Thomson

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