An international student’s journey to building a public health career in the US in healthcare management, with Deepti Joshi, MPH, MBA

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Deepti Joshi, the oncology quality program manager at MultiCare Health System. They discuss what quality improvement and management is, what tools and skills can help you succeed in this field, and her experiences as an international student.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How Deepti discovered the field of public health through an interest in healthcare and management
  • The role of exploring through internships and other work experiences in finding your passion
  • What health and quality management is and what career opportunities are available for those interested in it
    • What soft skills are advantageous for those interested in this field
    • What additional certifications are useful for program management roles
  • How teamwork between multiple disciplines is essential in maintaining quality services and systems
  • What a day in the life of a quality manager at a health system looks like
  • The biggest challenges Deepti faced as a student/worker coming from a different country and how she overcame these challenges

Today’s Guest:

I am currently working as an Oncology Quality Program Manager at MultiCare Health System in Washington. I have previously worked in Quality Improvement in the area of HIV/AIDS. I have a Master of Public Health degree from UNT Health Science Center, TX, and a Master of Hospital Administration degree from India. I also have a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. I am pursuing my interest in both quality management and public health by working in positions that allow me to combine them, and work towards my ultimate goal of contributing to the betterment of our society.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript

Deepti 0:00
From the moment I started working in healthcare, and I realized that, you know, I want to create that impact on more and more people, I realized that in a very simple term, my long term goal is to do something that makes positive contributions to the society.

Sujani 0:21
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly, right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva, from PH SPOT.

Hi Deepti, and welcome to the PH SPOT podcast. So great to have you here. Yeah, I’m excited to jump into hearing about your career journey in public health.

Deepti 0:47
Thank you, Sujani, for having me over. And I’m really excited to share my journey with you.

Sujani 0:53
So, you know, let’s start all the way back at the very beginning. And one question I love hearing answers to is how people discovered the field of public health because, you know, unlike medicine, or engineering, it wasn’t something that was popular when I went into the field, and I accidentally discovered public health through an elective course during my undergraduate years. So for you, I know, you started off your bachelor’s degree, very much in the health field and in that area, but at what point did you actually discover that, you know, a field titled public health existed, and there’s all of this amazing work that takes place? And perhaps I would like to, you know, build a career in this area?

Deepti 1:39
Yeah, great question. And, you know, my story, I would say, is a little bit similar to yours, as you said, you know, you discovered accidentally, and it’s a long story, how I figured out that public health exists. So I would like to go back a little bit more to the very beginning. I remember, I was very young, when my dad had asked me what I wanted to do in life. And I was really young to really know the answer to that question. But I don’t know, I just, out of nowhere, said I wanted to become a doctor. And that thought stayed with me for a really long time, I think until I really, you know, grew up. And I was in that time where I had to pick up subjects or had to really decide on my career. And of course, you know, it was my instinct to take biology in high schools. And I knew that that’s where I’m headed. I wanted to go to med school. But as I was growing up, you know, and I was being exposed to different careers, other than being a doctor, I realized, I do have other interests as well. My dad has been a bank manager all his life. At that time, my brother was pursuing his MBA, so I was really, you know, I realized I’m inclined towards management as well. And I might have mentioned it to my brother one time, and he said that his business school also offers MBA and hospital administration. And that’s when I was like, oh, you know, this is interesting, I didn’t know it existed. But it sort of gave me that opportunity to combine both my interests, you know, healthcare, and also management. And then I read above the curriculum and everything, and I was really interested in the program. So I apply, I got into the University. And, you know, I got into the program, and it was really exciting. I absolutely loved the whole program. It was actually a five year program with three years of bachelor’s degree, two years of master’s degree. Yeah. And then the interesting thing is a program really encouraged students to do internships, every summer in, you know, different hospitals, various departments just to explore areas of interest. Because when you say, hospital administration, it’s a really broad term. And you’ll need to narrow down to what you really liked doing. And you know, those internships were a great start to, you know, finding that interest. Then when I was doing those internships, I realized that I like doing the work that I’m doing. But I also feel like I want to reach out to more people, I wanted the impact of my work to reach the broader audience. And that’s when, you know, I was doing some research, and I figured out that public health exists. And I started looking for programs all across the world, you know, in India and US, everywhere. And that’s when I picked US as my number one option to go and pursue another Master’s degree. And that’s how I came here. And I did my public health, and I’m so glad that I chose to do that.

Sujani 4:40
Yeah. Because you pursued a public health degree in kind of still in that health management policy area, right?

Deepti 4:47
Yes, yes. And I really wanted to, you know, stay true to my interest in Health Management and Policy. So really, when it was time to take those electives, most of those were focused on health management, rather than policy, and I’m so glad that we had that option to, you know, pick those electives and, you know, paved the way to our, you know, career and area of interest.

Sujani 5:09
Yeah. It’s interesting because, you know, as we kind of explore different topics and subjects through undergrad and Master’s and kind of, you know, when we even- when we start working, we discovered new interests of ours and new strengths and things like that. And often, perhaps the areas that we specialize in, might change or morph into different topics. I know, for myself, you know, I started, initially, my undergraduate, I thought I would be going into dentistry, and I realized that wasn’t for me and discovered public health and went into epidemiology. And I worked in that field for about seven years or so. And then soon realizing, okay, maybe epidemiology is not my top interest. And I enjoyed discovering partnerships and working with people. And those are my interests. And I’m now trying to figure out, okay, how can I use that strength of mine and interest to establish kind of a new path for myself or for the next phase in my career? But for you, it seems like you discover the area of management and kind of healthcare administration very early on. And that interest has remained over the past, I want to say, like 10 plus years for you, how has your understanding of healthcare administration changed compared to back then to now? And how has that interest remain the same for you throughout these years? And yeah, maybe like, just tell us a bit about that, or whether you have had like, change of interest throughout it and kind of like, you came back. And I’ve heard those stories as well.

Deepti 6:43
Yeah, great question. I think it’s true, I did figure it out that I might be interested in some other things. And epidemiology was, you know, one of those, because when I was pursuing my MPH here, I had the opportunity to be a tutor at the Center for Academic Performance at our school, where I was, you know, able to tutor students who were in need. And, surprisingly, the most number of students that I tutored, were for epidemiology. And when I was doing that, I realized, you know, I’m pretty good at it. So I started questioning my decisions if Health Management and Policy was the right concentration for me, and if I should have picked epidemiology instead, but then I learned about all the requirements about SAS, you know, and all those software and I was like, Okay, now, I think health management and policy is my thing. But yes, I did have that opportunity to really explore other areas. And as I said, you know, during those internships, when I had the chance to work in different departments and different hospitals, that was also a great start. So I remember I have worked in marketing, I’ve worked in materials management, I’ve worked in quality management, I’ve worked in finance. And you know, it really took all those internships in those experiences for me to figure out that it’s quality management that I’m most interested in. And once I figured that out, I started working in that direction from the very beginning. So I remember, or I did all that exploring in my bachelor’s degree. But as I move in my master’s, back in India, I started doing more work in quality management, managing research project was in quality management. And when I came here, for my MPH, I was able to work as a research assistant, that work was also focused on quality management, my internship here was, you know, the same. So I was really able to gradually build that path towards quality management, that, you know, once I started working full time, that’s what I want to do. And it really worked for me pretty well, because, you know, once I started working full time, my first position was a quality improvement specialist. Right now I’m working as a quality program manager. So it’s, it’s been a very exciting journey. Yes, I did have some, you know, second thoughts about what I really wanted to do. But I think my interest, I feel was the same. It was just time to explore other things. But I did come back to, you know, health management, and I really enjoy doing that.

Sujani 9:12
Yeah. For some of our listeners who are exploring this area of work, and myself, like included, I don’t know too much about the day to day work of someone who would do kind of like health management related work. And I heard you say that some of your roles were in hospital settings. You worked in research centers, and I also saw that you also worked at the County Public Health for some of your internships. So could you tell us a little bit about, you know, what does someone who does have a concentration in that health management area do and sort of like what sort of opportunities exist for them once they do have that sort of training?

Deepti 9:53
Yeah, so I would talk about what I did back in India. So as I said, I did different internships. You know, in, in marketing and finance and all that. So for instance, in finance, I did a lot of, you know, projects on, let’s say, things like breakeven analysis or cost benefit analysis and stuff like that, you know, for specific departments, which was a great learning opportunity, you know, in marketing, it was more like, you know, shadowing what the marketing department does, it involved a lot of money. And we’re at very early stages of those, you know, internships. So, more like shadowing as how the Marketing Department operates. In materials management, I did some work in just inventory management and, you know, doing some analysis on the heavy flow departments like ICU and you know, operation theater and stuff like that. But when I came to the US, and I started working at the Tarrant County Public Health Department, my work was focused on the HIV AIDS population in Tarrant County, and it was, I would say, a pretty high population of those patients that the county served. And, you know, some of my work was around managing the grants, you know, running reports to, you know, figure out those numbers to support the grants help in grant writing, you know, just provide the data as and when needed. And this was all, you know, very beginning of that internship and that research assistantship where I was also learning about the program, but I was also trying to support the program as much as I could in whatever capacity that was asked. And then, in my internship at the same place, it was more focused on quality management. So I conducted, you know, youth focus groups to, you know, answer some questions, to find the reasons behind what are the barriers to, you know, access to care, or retention and care and stuff like that. So all of that work. And this was all about, you know, the internships and the research assistantships. But when I started working, you know, the word got more and more focused on the programs that I started working in. So the first one, I was working as a QA specialist that was also with the HIV AIDS patients here in in Pierce County, Washington. And I was the QI person for the whole program. So it needs a lot of data reporting, data collection, analysis, doing a lot of QI work for the processes in the program, working with a, you know, multidisciplinary team, ranging from the clinical team to non clinical team, everyone. And, you know, in my in my recent role, right now, I’m working as the Accreditation Program Manager, technically, where I’m managing four different accreditations for the cancer program at MultiCare health system in Tacoma, Washington.

Sujani 12:43
So it sounds like there’s lots of skills that would really benefit someone who would be interested to get into health management type work, from your experience, and kind of everything that you’ve done so far, what would you say are some of the top skills or things that people should work on and focus on to really like, strengthen if they are thinking about a path similar to yours?

Deepti 13:08
So if you know you’re exploring your interest in quality management, particularly, I would say, of course, all those, you know, quality management, quality improvement skills, there are so many certifications out there that you can do, or, you know, just taking on some projects in school, stuff like that would really help. But, you know, I would like to focus a little bit more on the soft skills that I’ve realized over the years have helped me a lot, you know, particularly skills like, you know, very strong organization, you know, detail orientation, it has really helped me, open communication with the team, because when it comes to not just quality improvement, but also general management, you cannot do it by yourself, you need your team to work with you, and you need to work with a team as well. So I think really being able to communicate openly, is a very important skill that I’ve realized comes handy. So I think these are my top three skills that I highly recommend people working on.

Sujani 14:08
Yeah, it sounds like there’s a lot of collaborative work that you have to do, right?

Deepti 14:13
Yes, yes.

Sujani 14:14
So currently, you are at like a health system. And could you kind of walk us through what a day or a week looks like for you in that role?

Deepti 14:23
So as I said, I’m the Quality Program Manager for oncology programs at MultiCare health system in Tacoma. It’s a pretty huge health system with you know, the scope of services span to literally everything, but my work is mostly focused on the oncology program. So we at MultiCare provide oncology services to general Cancer Services, breasts program, director program of radiation oncology and stuff like that. So my- my role mainly is focused on managing the accreditations for the cancer programs that are mostly for accreditations, we have one called Apex for radiation oncology, we have a commission of cancer, the national accreditation program for breast centers and one for rectal cancer. So I manage all for these programs, I think it’s a bit of a work because all four programs are different. They might seem similar, but when you really start working on those, you realize they’re very different from each other. So I’m, you know, always switching gears when I’m working on one program, and then on another, but I’m pretty much working on all four programs every single week, I would say, not day. But week. My work as I said, I’m the accreditation specialist in this role, basically, my work is, I’d say, focused on making sure that we are meeting all the standards, and by all I mean, they’re like 500 different standards. We are meeting those standards, we are up to date on all the data that we need for all the reports that we need to submit, if we happen to have a site visit or a survey by the accreditation agency tomorrow, we should be ready for that day. So that’s- that’s what my job is. It involves a lot of collaborating with team members, again, very multidisciplinary team from a medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, we have all sorts of physicians. On board, we have, you know, the administrative staff, we have the cancer registry that I need to work with, you know, nurses, navigators, all kinds of people, because the standards are not specific to just the clinical standards, but also non clinical standards. And I need information from everyone, every now and then to keep the program ready to go. That’s what my role looks like. I think it’s pretty complicated to explain, but in the simplest way that I can say is, you know, being survey ready every single day.

Sujani 16:59
Yeah, I guess, the way I understand it is if there is some sort of program that needs to be assessed, you’re collecting data, and then those team members would give you the data and the analysis. And then if there are surveys that you need to collect, talk to different people on the team, you’re kind of bringing all of the information and data together. And then you’re kind of using it all to come up with kind of a final assessment to then present to the individuals who are looking for that info. Does that summarize it?

Deepti 17:29
Yes, and no. So basically, the American College of Surgeons is basically the accrediting agency, and they give the accreditation to our programs for every three years. So they will come in every three years to do a survey at our facility, and they would, you know, see our reports, they would see our data, they would see our medical records, and all of that stuff, you know, policies and workflows and stuff like that. So I have to make sure that everything is in place, everything is you know, approved, everything is up to date, we have the data that we need, you know, sometimes, you know, after the accreditation report comes out, we see that we are accredited, but we need some corrective actions, I am the one who needs to work on this corrective action and make sure that we are resubmitting, and then getting you know, approved again, I basically track every single standard for each program on a regular basis. And some standards are really like, you know, it just needs to be presented to your committee four times a year. So I need to check if this has been presented four times a year, if not then who- who does it, when, and one who conducts those meetings for each program, which needs to be done quarterly, I am the one taking the minutes. And literally everything from you know, as small as you know, doing those meetings and taking the minutes to really submitting for that accreditation and getting that accreditation. And-

Sujani 18:54

Deepti 18:55
.. That so it’s a really broad spectrum of work that I cover in this position.

Sujani 18:59
And I think that one of the skills that you mentioned comes back to me is organization because that’s a lot to it, not only keep in mind, but like make sure you’re meeting those deadlines at times making sure everyone’s like schedules are also getting aligned to in order to like deliver on these I’m sure they’re time sensitive too, right?

Deepti 18:59
Extremely Yes. So if for this particular position, if you asked me the top five skills, I would say top three would be organization and the next two, would be detail orientation, because the standards could be very specific you need this and the manual is like 200 pages long and you know one small thing could get lost and you know, you could be dinged on it that you didn’t do this so you really need to be very detail oriented and not miss even a single thing you need to deal with every single thing that that’s in the manuals. So yeah.

Sujani 19:56
Another skill that comes to mind for me is like building vert strong relationships, right? Like you’re- you’re needing to collaborate with multiple teams in your organization. And I think if you need to have trust built there so that you can work together for the benefit of that organization like that keeps coming up for me as well.

Deepti 20:15
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, the fun part is not just collaborating, but you’re really collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, as I said, and you really need a different mindset when you’re communicating with a physician about something versus you know, maybe someone else like someone from the senior leadership that I work with, we had the vice president of the oncology care land that I’ve worked with on a regular basis, because she is also managing all four programs in a different capacity. So we chat on a regular basis. So it does a need a different mindset and different kinds of communication we get when you’re chatting with the different kinds of people. So I think, as I said earlier, good communication always comes in handy.

Sujani 20:56
Yeah. From your experience, is quality improvement or quality programming work. Is that typically a large team? Or is it a small team, or are an individual in different organizations?

Deepti 21:11
I would say, it’s definitely a teamwork. Everyone’s involved. I mean, even if, let’s say, I’m the one who was doing most of the work, but when it comes to really improving those processes, the process owner needs to work with me to make changes to the way they are working so that we can get the results that we want. So it’s definitely a team work, not a one person work at all. But I would say it depends on the kind of organization that you’re working with. So earlier, I was working at a community health center, which was a smaller program with really, I think, like 10 people in that HIV AIDS program, so it was easier to manage. Now, when I’m working at this huge healthcare system, each program has a pretty huge team, varying from like, 40 people to 50 people, you know, in different programs, a quality management team and itself is like 80 people, which is, which is pretty huge. We’re managing different programs at not just the cancer center, but at the, you know, the different programs in the organization overall. So it is definitely a team work. But the kind of team that you’re working with would completely depend on the program or the health system that you’re working with.

Sujani 22:25
I’m assuming there’s also some independent work, because you mentioned like 200 page manuals that you’ll have to refill. There’s a lot of kind of sitting and doing work on your own as well. So it sounds like there’s a good balance.

Deepti 22:37
Yes, yes, absolutely. So I would say that on a regular day, I don’t need stuff from anyone, I’m doing things on my own, but you know, if we are approaching a quarterly meeting with the committee, then it’s like, you know, I need this from someone, someone else needs to, you know, present this data to the committee. So then I’m working with them to make sure that everyone knows, you know, who’s attending y, who is presenting, what they’re presenting, if there’s anything that needs approval, and stuff like that, so that I’m working a lot with the people. And then also, you know, some programs here are well established, because we have been accredited for a couple of programs for a while now. So you know, things are rolling pretty well. But there are other programs that are pretty new. And I am really helping to build those programs make improvements to make sure that we do get pre accredited because getting accredited for the first time was apparently easier because we had to submit only one year worth of data, or one and a half year. But now moving forward, we need like three years of data, which is a lot. So you know, I’m trying to improve those programs and you know, really build those programs for that matter. So yeah, variety of work here.

Sujani 23:50
You mentioned a while back that certifications were also important. And you had a few could you tell us a bit about like I was looking on your profile, and I see the Lean Six Sigma kind of certification. And I think that’s probably the only one I’m quite familiar with. But there are a few other ones. And I’m curious to hear which ones you’d recommend for anyone just thinking about like healthcare management and thoughts on certifications.

Deepti 24:18
Yeah, actually, I would talk about all that I accomplished. So as a prerequisite for MPH degree we were supposed to do first, a CPH certification in public health, which the first time when we did that was basically an exam that the SAT for, and we had to study all five concentrations and public health plus a couple of other subjects. So the syllabus was pretty huge. But it was interesting. So we cleared that exam, you know, all of us who were enrolled at the MPH at that time, we all took that exam, and we got our CPH and that’s how we were then eligible to actually get our MPH degree. So it was a really a interesting format. And then after we get an MPH, it’s not like we have to keep the CPH. But I was like, you know, I really want to because it’s not just another credential. But the way we need to renew our CPHS. Interesting, we have to submit 50 continuing education credits every two years. And I felt like doing that would help me, you know, stay up to date with what’s going on. And there’s just so much to learn, there are webinars or online courses that we can do. And it really helps you to, as I said, keep up to date with whatever’s happening out there, I continue to hold my CPA certification till date, because it really gives me that opportunity to continue that education on a regular basis. So that’s the one. Then second is the Lean Six Sigma that I did, because I was very interested in quality management. And I was like, why not? Let’s give it a shot. So I started with the, you know, basics, white belt, and that yellow belt. You know, as I started doing those, I got more and more into it. And I was so interested. And I was like, Okay, let’s do the green belt as well, which was a bit of a studying and you know, taking those exams and all that, but it was totally worth it. It has added so many, you know, quality management skills that come in handy, that I really recommend people to do it if they’re interested in, you know, QM or QI moving forward. So that’s one. And then I was also interested in the data and analytics portion, because we do some of it in quality management as well, because you know, data is everything. I mean, it’s like the foundation on which you can build your quality improvement or quality management program. So I also did the Google Data Analytics professional certification via Coursera. And I absolutely loved that certification. I think it’s, it’s divided into eight courses. And together, it makes the whole certification, it covers everything from the basics of data to SQL, and Tableau and all of it and I absolutely love that. And I would recommend people that are interested in detail addicts, they should definitely do this.

You kind of mentioned you were trying to get away from all the stats and analytics. And


Sujani 27:21
You still have some interest in it.

Deepti 27:22
At that, at that time, when I said epidemiology needed SAS, I was kind of scared. But you know, when I look back, I sometimes think that I was just paranoid at that time. But maybe if I had taken the course I would have done well. But again, the epidemiology and the SAS and all of that was very time sensitive, and my degree depended on it. But this was all self pays. And I could take help. And you know, my husband, he’s a- he’s in software engineering, and he is very pro with all of these things. So he could really help me with, you know, sequel teach me things that I think I really enjoyed that process that way.

Sujani 28:00
Awesome. You know, my next question, I, it’s an assumption I’m making, and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be an incorrect assumption. But when I kind of hear your story and see your profile of all the different stages of your career, to me, it looks, you know, very linear. And we talked about how you knew your interest right from the beginning. And you, you know, really focused on that, and you are where you are today because of that clarity and the interest that you have. And, and to me, it looks like a very linear path. And I’m sure that’s not the case for anybody. So, yeah, when you kind of reflect back on your journey to date, what are some of the biggest challenges that you’d say that you faced in your professional journey so far? And how did you overcome them?

Deepti 28:45
Great question. And, you know, my, my challenges have been, I’m not saying unique, but I don’t know how many people would resonate with it. Like, as you said, from the very beginning, I knew this was what I wanted to do. And I continued doing that. And, you know, my interest in in that area strengthened over time. But my challenge was, when I came to the US, I was on student F1 visa, and Health Management and Policy, as you know, many international students would realize it doesn’t fall under the same category. Meaning when you get your OPT on F1 visa, you only get it for one year, there’s no extension, meaning after you’re completed your degree, you can work for one year, and then it all depends on whether your employer has sponsored your h1 or not, and my employer did not do that. So I did not have an option, but to go back, and I had to discontinue working at that point of time. So that was a huge blow of course, and then eventually I had to come back on a dependent visa, just the h4 and you know the regulations for H4 work authorization, they aren’t easy. And it really took me actually, it took a long time for my husband’s paperwork to get through so that I could eventually start working. And that resulted, especially due to COVID, it resulted in a three year employment gap, which is, again, a huge, huge blow, I hadn’t expected that, it was a challenge because and especially during the pandemic, because I knew that being a public health professional, I was needed up there. And I should have been there working, contributing as much as I could, but I just did not have the work authorization to do that. And at that time, volunteering wasn’t easy either. Because, you know, the hospitals are responsible for the volunteers, and we didn’t have vaccines and stuff like that. So it wasn’t easy at all. So that was a huge challenge, you know, just waiting for the work authorization to come through so that I could start working again. And as I said, my situation is not unique. I’m sure there are people out there who would resonate with it. But all I want to say is don’t lose that hope, you know, you’re the work authorization will come through. And I have to say that the employers in the US have been so kind, you know, that when I got my work authorization back, and I started interviewing, I was asked what happened and why was that working. But when I told them the reason no one questioned any further, because they understand the you know, the employment gap wasn’t an issue for me to you know, come back and get another job, which is amazing. But there is one other thing that I think really helped me is that when I wasn’t working, I was doing all of these certifications, that’s when I did my Lean Six Sigma, that’s when I did the data analytics certification. You know, I was, again, continuing to, you know, renew my CPA certification as in when it came due, I was learning a language at that time. So I was really, you know, keeping myself busy with building all of these skills. So that when it was finally time for me to, you know, come back and you know, do the do those interviews, I was all set, I was ready to really tell them that, you know, my skills, I’ve built those over the years, and I’m, you know, I’m ready to work.

Sujani 32:11
Yeah. I mean, three years is not a short amount of time, that was a very long time. And I think your situation may be it could resonate with a lot of people whether you know, they are waiting on a visa or they’re forced to take some sort of a break or a gap year, whether it’s like family situations or, you know, whatever the reason may be and I think, regardless of the reason, taking it a few years, and it’s kind of out of your control is definitely hard. It definitely I think it could demotivate you for sure. Right? And that was my next question. Like, how did you spend those three years and it sounded like, you had a plan and you executed it, and you had yourself like ready on that launch pad. So when the visa did come through, you could kind of jump back in and start contributing back to the world of public health. But right from the bat, did you have that plan? Or did you have moments where you really needed to pick yourself up? And if that’s the case, like what helped you stay optimistic through those three years?

Deepti 33:19
You know, I definitely had those moments, I think most days, I had those moments that I felt so low. And it was a very difficult time to be very honest. And I probably had to pick myself up every single day and tell myself that it’s okay. And that things will fall in place eventually, I just didn’t know when that eventually would come. You know, in the first year, I was like, you know, probably one year or one and a half year. And that’s when the pandemic hit.

Sujani 33:46

Deepti 33:46
And everything just slowed down the visa processing and all of that the offices were shut and no one was working. And that’s when I realized that it’s going to take really long time. And it stretched to three years. And I think those were the most difficult three years. But in the beginning, when I felt like it’s going to be just a year or so I was just working on my CPA certification to keep it current. But eventually, when I realized that, no, it’s gonna be much longer than I anticipated. I was like, I gotta do something. I felt like the plan wasn’t in the beginning. It wasn’t to, you know, keep my skills up to date or anything. It was just to keep myself busy. And I enjoy the process of learning. And I thought why not, let’s invest some time to keep myself distracted from all these lows. And just to, you know, invest the time a little bit positively and work towards feeling good, basically. And that’s when I started doing things and I eventually really got interested and I was like, Okay, I want to do more. I’m enjoying this. I want to do more. And I felt like eventually this is going to be good for me in the long run. And that’s how I started investing more and more time and doing those certifications and studying and all of that. But to all the listeners, it wasn’t easy. And even if you feel like, you know, this is the worst I promise, the best is yet to come.

Sujani 35:11
Yeah. Oh, wow. Yeah, I don’t know how I would have had three years of not knowing what the timelines look like, so good for you, you know, you should be very proud of, you know, coming out of that strong and doing something that you love right now.

Deepti 35:26
Thank you.

Sujani 35:28
What do you think about the future? And kind of, you know, the rest of your, your public health career? What are some things that you’re excited about? And like, what are what are some goals that you’re working towards?

Deepti 35:40
From the moment I started working in healthcare, and I realized that, you know, I want to create that impact on more and more people, I realized that, in a very simple term, my long term goal is to do something that makes positive contributions to the society, it as simple as that. But I feel like my favorite areas to do that one, of course, health care, and the second would be education. So I’ve already touched the healthcare part, and I’m working, and I’m really happy with the work that I do. And I really hope to continue doing that on, you know, even a bigger scale where I can, you know, increase that impact of my work. But there’s one more thing that I would, you know, eventually like to do some time in my life is pursue either a PhD or a DrPH, and maybe get into teaching as well, because that’s another thing that really interests me, which I didn’t talk about earlier. But I would love to do that. And I feel there are so many opportunities. After doing the RPh particularly you can not only teach but also work at senior leadership positions, and really be able to create that positive impact that I’m talking about. That’s really one thing that I would love to do in the future.

Sujani 36:56
It’s amazing. And we’ll definitely have you back on to hear about the accomplishment of that goal. So best wishes to you for that.

Deepti 37:05
Thank you, thank you so much.

Sujani 37:07
This has been so wonderful, Deepti, and just hearing your journey and you know, everything that you work so hard towards, I’m sure a lot of our listeners are going to resonate and just get a lot of motivation and inspiration from your story and, you know, build a great public health career for themselves. So I want to say thank you on their behalf for joining us.

Deepti 37:28
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to chat with you.

Sujani 37:34
Hey, I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you want to get the links or information mentioned in today’s episode, you can head over to And we’ll have everything there for you. And before you go, I want to tell you about the public health career club. So if you’ve been looking for a place to connect and build meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, from all around the world, you should join us in the public health career club. We launched the club with the vision of becoming the number one hangout spot dedicated to building and growing your dream public health career. And in addition to being able to connect and build those meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, the club also offers other great resources for your career growth and success, like mindset coaching, job preparation, clinics, and career growth strategy sessions in the form of trainings and talks, all delivered by experts and inspiring individuals in these areas. So if you want to learn more, or want to join the club, you can visit our page at And we’ll have all the information there. And you know, as a space that’s being intentionally curated to bring together like minded public health professionals who are not only there to push themselves to become the best versions of themselves, but also each other. And with that, I can’t wait to see how it this is going to have a ripple effect in the world as we all work together to better the health of our populations and just have immense impact in the world. And I hope you’ll be joining us in the public health career Club.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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