Ariana Longley reveals how healthcare reform in the United States led her to study the Master of Public Health in Scotland, and how Covid-19 has impacted her work in a non-profit focused on patient safety.
Master of Public Health
|Year of leaving
At the moment
I’m fully employed at a global non-profit that focuses on patient safety and while inundated by Covid-19 due to the patient safety implications, I am feeling energised by helping to educate patients about how they can receive better, safer care – now more than ever before.
Your time at the University
In April 2011, when I applied for graduate school I was a laboratory assistant in California, who realised that the “lab life” wasn’t for me. I loved having a job that was hands on – working with mice and cells, but I soon discovered that I wasn’t cut out for the culture and it was time for a change. So, I reflected on the other courses during undergrad that I enjoyed and immediately remembered how fond I was of epidemiology. After a long late night of internet searches I was on my way, applying for Master of Public Health (MPH) programmes in the UK.
At that time, mid-2011, we had just begun our healthcare reform here in America – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or what you might remember being called “Obamacare”. As a undergrad who wanted to pursue a graduate degree in public health; I was very interested in understanding my own country’s healthcare system. But, in trying to follow how what had become law in 2010 would be applied to our population, it wasn’t so clear. So I thought, I’ll go abroad and get my MPH in Scotland. While they figure out how all the provisions will be applied, I can get a global perspective on public health in case I fall in love with Edinburgh and don’t want to go home.
It all worked out in the end. When I graduated in 2012 the ACA was indeed law but most of the provisions hadn’t been enforced yet so I really hadn’t missed much. And, the University of Edinburgh gave me a global perspective on public health that was world class. My studies and training have prepared me for where I am today – working in the public health sector for an NGO to help better the lives of patients.
Your experiences since leaving the University
To be honest, the months after graduation were rough. I fell in love with Edinburgh and did not want to move back to California. I remember trying everything I could try stay but my only option at the time was a PhD and I wasn’t interested in that. So, I returned back to sunny California and started my job search. I applied to over 500 jobs over the next nine months and got no bites. I ended up interning without pay at my local county’s healthcare agency so I could work in the public health space and “tick the box.” Soon after adding that internship to my resume, I got my first call back. Miraculously the first phone interview turned into a series of interviews that landed me my first corporate job in the medtech industry. I thoroughly enjoyed working for that company but I really missed the international aspect. One day, in late 2014 someone came and knocked on my cube – quite literally. That person was the President of an NGO that was initially founded by the medtech company I worked for. Long story short, that knock on my cube changed my life.
I transitioned to working for the Patient Safety Movement Foundation in 2015 and have never looked back. It's fast paced, mission driven, and honestly brings together the most dedicated individuals who want to help save lives. And, truly, without my education and training at the University of Edinburgh I don’t think I could have landed this job.
It's fast paced, mission driven, and honestly brings together the most dedicated individuals who want to help save lives.
Life during Covid-19
Covid-19 has impacted my work at the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. This pandemic has highlighted that health worker safety directly correlates to patient safety. We’ve seen that if health workers aren’t safe themselves they cannot provide safe care to their patients. It seems so basic, but the public (future patients) don’t typically recognise this – this is based on some public polling we’ve done in America. So, Covid-19 has made my work and our foundation’s mission more important. We’ve now embarked on a journey to educate the public about how health worker safety impacts their care by providing free education and resources, and more importantly, by empowering them to speak up and be a partner in their care.
If someone takes the time to show you that they believe in you, make sure you take every opportunity they give you to pour their wisdom into your life. Whether it’s getting a coffee (a virtual one these days!) or an opportunity for mentorship, it’s worth it. I’ve never regretted a moment spent with those who believe in me.
Patient Safety Movement Foundation (external link)