Public health medicine, moving from Malaysia to France and tips for applying to the WHO, with Arunah Chandran, MD, MSc, MPH, DrPH

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with public health physician Dr. Arunah Chandran. They discuss Arunah’s clinical work and how she became interested in the field of public health, her work at the Ministry of Health of Malaysia and experience moving to France to work with the IARC, and share job application tips for those interested in working with international organizations.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The clinical encounters that led Arunah to becoming involved in the field of public health 
  • What additional training Arunah went through to become a public health physician
  • Arunah’s research and work in noncommunicable diseases and women’s health with the Ministry of Health in Malaysia
  • Finding different job opportunities within the same company or system
  • Advice on how to figure out if you should seek an additional degree or not
  • Arunah’s work with the IARC and her experience moving to a different country for work
  • Tips on applying for jobs with international organizations and the benefits of keeping a log of values and responsibilities you have had at every position

Today’s Guest:

Public health medicine specialist, with experience in clinical medicine, health systems, NCD policies, public health operations, and clinical research. Led national policy response for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers in Malaysia. Currently, focused on implementation and evaluation of affordable and equitable integrated multi-cancer early detection package to improve cancer outcomes in resource-constrained settings. Initially trained as a physician, I have a double Masters in Public Health and Medical Aesthetics/Anti-aging as well as a doctorate in Public Health (Epidemiology).

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript

Arunah 0:00
Every job or at every shortcodes are a long term cost that you’ve done. What were the core values? Or what were the core description of the work? What have you learned from there and to sort of like keep a summary of those things. If you kept a log of that, I think that will be very, very useful.

Sujani 0:24
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 Arunah, and welcome to the PH SPOT podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about your public health journey.

Arunah 0:49
Hi, Sujani, thank you for inviting me. It’s lovely to be here.

Sujani 0:52
Yeah, and I guess it’s morning for me when we’re recording and evening for you, because you are calling in from France. So it’s always nice to talk to people from all around the world and kind of hear similar journeys, and also kind of hear challenges and tips that you have to offer for early career professionals. And sometimes even you know, established folks in public health end up finding great value in the conversations that we have on this podcast. So I’m excited to get into your journey. So the question I love to start with all of my guests is how they discovered public health. And I know for you, you started your education in like the field of medicine and then have a series of other public health related degrees. I’m curious when you were about to start medicine, were you aware that such a field called Public Health existed and the work involved in there?

Arunah 1:49
So thank you for that question. That’s a really interesting one. I think my story started off my as you had mentioned earlier, I’m a physician by training. And obviously, community medicine is part of all most of I think of our medical school training. But I never really thought as a clinician, I would end up working in the area of public health. So after graduating, I started my clinical work initially in a tertiary hospital. And then then followed by work in a semi rural hospital where I worked in a emergency setting. It was really nice. I liked my work in the weekends, because it was in a semi rural setting, we would organize medical camps. And let me just clarify, I remember you said I currently am dialing in from France, but I’m originally from Malaysia. So the setting that I’m talking about is in Malaysia, in the capital in Kuala Lumpur and the hospital- the semi rural hospital that I’m talking about is a couple of hours drive from the capital city. So I was working in this hospital and in the weekends, I would spend some time working in organizing medical camps visiting sort of tribal population, rural schools. And it’s sort of like gave me my first exposure to public health. And I think it is in one of those early years, those clinical encounters that I first came across a woman in, I think, who was probably around her late 40s. She turned up in the water that I was managing in severe sepsis due to a diabetic foot ulcer. Just to give you context, I think around 25% of the Malaysians population have raised blood sugar, diabetes, and half of them don’t know they have the condition. So this woman turned up in sepsis due to her diabetic foot, she had two young children who are accompanying her. And she had traveled from a different state from very far away. And we actually needed permission to treat her but she was very reluctant, saying she had actually come to the area to seek help from a fake healer. And she wasn’t really interested in mainstream medicine and she refused to give any sort of permissions for any treatment, more so an amputation of her foot that would have actually, I think, at the time saved her life. And she eventually succumbed due to her sepsis. I feel like I still remember that story very well, because I feel like it was a turning point for me. You know, here is a woman who’s got a long life to live a lot to contribute to society and her family, right. She had two young kids who were with her, and she had every access to health care. She was in a medical facility, but yet, I felt that there was more to it. I felt like that clinical encounter despite having stayed up that medicine or every single chair that she could access to see not only did not want it, but she turned up at a very late stage in for disease. To me it was like I obviously at the stage knew how to manage her disease her condition, her condition at the time, but there was more to that right, I started thinking about what could we do to prevent more women like her from turning up to our health care facilities in late stages, right? There was a lot to do. And I didn’t know these words at the time, health literacy, social determinants, belief systems. So I started like digging a little bit more. And that got me sort of like interested in what we can do. I knew at the time that, you know, there was a bigger picture that we needed to address, at least in a country like my we’re a middle income country, we did have universal health coverage, and yet, there was a proportion of the population who did not either have access to care, or did not, even if they could did not have the sort of belief system, that was the care that they needed. So I think that was like a sort of a turning point in my career, I continued to work in the clinical setting, just exploring my options on what I could do. So I started considering, you know, just focusing on should I focus on health care management, and I spoke to my senior clinicians, and they said, Oh, I spent all this years in medical school, it will be a waste for you to go to public health. So I did hear like, very mixed reviews, you know, I mean, so looking back, it’s quite interesting, the kind of advice that people gave me when I first started contemplating public health. So when I eventually thought that, you know, let me try a different career path, I moved into a sort of a Clinical Research Center, that’s what I did for a bit, just looking at working with health data, and eventually applied to a local public health program in the country spent a couple of years and for us who are in the clinical field, that was a very structured public health program that includes a master’s in public health, which gave us the sort of foundation, an introduction to the public health field, after which we can embark on a Doctorate in Public Health, the DrPH program, which is a doctorate, like a public health PhD, but it has a on the job training, so you still sort of continue some service provision in different areas of public health. So that’s how I sort of like became a full fledged public health physician, per se. So it did start off in the clinical setting. In the beginning, I did not know much about public health. It’s not an area that is I feel like very much encouraged by clinicians. But I think it’s gaining more and more momentum over the years. That’s how I started.

Sujani 7:49
No, it’s interesting when you talked about that experience you had witnessing that woman who was kind of reluctant. And I think this like need for you to figure out how you could have helped her and then you talked about not knowing that terminologies associated with like, you know, public health and health literacy. And I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight, right? Like you’re not seeing this woman. And then you go and jump on your computer and start researching you like reflecting on her as you were seeing different patients. And then are you then recalling some of your community medicine courses, and kind of like putting the pieces together? I listened to this podcast recently. And it was talking about, you know, these like pivotal moments in our life, whether it’s changing a career or moving or going back to school, they seem to happen overnight, when you kind of like talk about it. But obviously like anything, you probably can relate it, it happens over a long period of time. And these like little pieces are coming together. And so for you, I’m assuming like you were working in this clinical setting, after you had graduated like 2008. And then how long between those kinds of periods? Were you then like putting these pieces together and go like, Aha, okay, I think public health is where I’m gonna go.

Arunah 9:09
So for me, it took a couple of years, to be honest with you. Well, that was probably like a moment where I started thinking a little bit deeply about sort of the wider health system instead of just health care provision. It was my subsequent sort of experiences, right? Remember, I spoke about how even in the weekends we would organize medical camps, we will visit tribal populations and we would see that there is an area of need, where there is still a lot of gaps, a lot of barriers that we needed to address. And for me, I felt there was a sense of fulfillment. When I was doing my clinical work, it was an instant gratification when I saw somebody heal or somebody get better. But then I would always think about, for example, when you send a patient home, right, what sort of continuous care that they would need from the community or the society, or what sort of health education, they would need to continue adhering to the medication. Because sometimes patients come to us for an acute condition, you sort of treat that acute condition, and then they go home. And then they will be well, for a while they will default their medication. So for me, the I started thinking a little bit about health literacy, I was also very much interested in the area of women’s health. And for my doctoral thesis, I managed to sort of merge my interest in NCDs, and women’s health. And I focused on the determinants of NCDs among women specifically in a specific sort of occupational cohort. And that is what eventually led me to my career in NCD policies and program operations. Because when we say public health, it is a wide area, right? It can be anything from, you know, surveillance, occupational health, family medicine, there’s a lot of things that you can consider when you’re considering a career in public health. For me, it wasn’t just that I didn’t one day wake up and say, hey, you know what, I’m going to do public health, and I want to focus on NCDs. It didn’t happen that way. You know, it was I feel like my sort of experiences that shaped my thought processes along the way, the MPH definitely gave me an introduction of what could be. And I think that was very useful for me. And then continuing that education through on the job training was, again, very helpful, because then my mentors at that time realized that, oh, okay, so you have an interest in women’s health. And you also want to do something related to either gender or NCDs. Why don’t you focus on, for example, the effect of gender or gender responsive entity policy, so I had good mentors who eventually sort of guide me. So it took several years before I eventually decided my career, I continued to practice clinical medicine for a few years, and then went into public health trading after perhaps the first five years of my career. So it was a slow process, you’re right, it’s definitely not something, oh, something happens to be tomorrow, wake up and decide, this is going to make career path. It takes some time. I think, for me, it was a natural process. I feel like, in a way, I’m lucky, I applied to a program locally in my country, and I got into it. And then I had good mentors who could sort of like guide my thought processes. And I was also inquisitive. And there was obviously an area needed and city policies, there was a growing burden of NCDs, just in low and middle income countries. And, you know, there weren’t that many people who were too excited about wanting to work in NCDs. But I was one of those people. And so it was a natural progression for me. And

Sujani 13:11
to kind of just like, paint the timeline for our listeners, I think like 2008, you graduated from your medical program, and then you spent about three years you said, right, doing clinical work. And then you joined the clinical research side of things. And this was all within the Ministry of Health in Malaysia.

Arunah 13:30
I’ve worked in Ministry of Health in Malaysia, throughout my career, until I left in December 2021. So initially working in the clinical setting, and then I spent about a year and a bit in the Clinical Research Center, and I joined the MPH program in 2012.

Sujani 13:46
Awesome, that’s nice for people to kind of hear that because like you spent 13 years with the Ministry of Health within this like one organization, but you kind of were able to explore other interests that you had and pivot a little bit in your career. And it kind of goes to show like, you have great mentors around you who kind of like guide your next few steps. And when you are part of a larger organization, you can kind of explore different paths within that organization, right? You don’t necessarily need to drastically make any huge changes if you’re looking to at least explore and test out other areas.

Arunah 14:24
You’re right. I think having mentors help, but because the public health program was also something that was very structured for clinicians in my country, that helped us well. So like I said, for the doctorate programs, there was structured on the job training, which means during my DrPH, I had to spend one year in a district health office and different areas where there was maternal and child health, school health programs. So I got to experience different aspects of public health and then decide for myself which one of these are infectious disease outbreak control. So I got to sort of like, in a way, decide where I’ve wanted to be.

Sujani 15:04
That’s awesome. And I guess you went in as a public health trainee. And then you had a series of other related roles around and CDs and cancer. And eventually, when you were leaving the Ministry of Health, you were like the public health physician and head in the cardiovascular and diabetes kind of unit, tell us about those four or five years.

Arunah 15:26
So that was really interesting to me. So I left, I completed my doctorate program and went to work in the Ministry of Health headquarters in the disease control division, specifically working in the NCDs. Initially, I was managing our cancer control program. And then eventually, when my last position before I left with I headed the cardiovascular Diabetes Program. So that role was very interesting to me, because it was part policy policymaking. And it was also part of public health operations at the national level. So it wasn’t like the granular level work of public health operations, but more of sort of strategic direction, monitoring, and evaluation at a country level. And that was very exciting for me, because while we weren’t a large team, I managed a team about seven to eight people. So we’re a population of 32 million in Malaysia, with 1000 over primary care clinics. So we’ve got good primary gatekeeping. So when it comes to NCD programs within the primary care, we had disease registries that we could use to evaluate the program, we had good quality assurance mechanisms that we could sort of identify gaps, and then formulate programs that could improve care and service provision. So I did quite a bit of that. The other aspect of my job was also to look into progressive policies of NCDs. So for NCDs, often were guided by the global action plan for NCDs. And how do you translate those things to the local context, to the lower and middle income, country context? And so there was a lot of stakeholder engagement involved. So the art of policymaking is not something that is very straightforward. So that was a very steep learning curve for me, I feel and like I said, I had good mentors within the disease control division. Yeah, so it was very exciting. There were times where it can be frustrating. It’s not very straightforward, like I said, but when you see your hard work coming to prove that is, for me, the greatest sort of satisfaction, and there was a lot of passion towards what I was doing. And I think I had a great team. And you know, it’s always like, very exciting when you want to do sort of new things when you want to introduce new things. And the kind of let’s just say you want to introduce a new policy for NCDs. You know, what are the steps that you need to take? What are the legal implications? What are the social, cultural implication, ethical implications? So I had to learn all that those aspects of my job was very different. Like I said, it was a very steep learning curve. And I spent a couple years doing that before I eventually left.

I’m assuming you you weren’t practicing medicine at the clinical level during this period of your career. Is that correct?

No, so after when I went eventually, when in BNCT policy maker role, there wasn’t sufficient time for me to go and continue my clinical practice. But I still was very much in touch with the on the ground level clinical work, because we were still developing guidelines, for example, because my work area was, at the time very much focused on diabetes and hypertension. You know, we were still developing quality assurance guidelines, I was still involved in, for example, development of clinical practice guidelines. So I still kept in touch with that aspect of practice, but not really a patient, one to one patient encounter.

Sujani 19:09
I noticed that, you know, throughout this period, you also went to school and got a master’s of science degree in anti aging, medicine and medical esthetics. And, you know, the question isn’t per se, like, why that degree? I mean, welcome to share that as well. But a lot of our listeners sometimes debate between going back to school or working in the field. And so given your experience and the decisions that you’ve had to make along the way, and kind of like knowing that you have the MSC that you went and got and then the mph and a DrPH, I guess, what sort of advice could you give to our listeners who you know, think about going back to school to either get a graduate degree or a doctorate degree and, you know, they’re not 100% sure that they need that degree or they want to get it or, you know, for me, for example, I know eventually I want to go get a doctorate degree, whether it’s a DrPHor PhD, but, you know, the time just doesn’t seem to be perfect just yet. And I wonder if there are lessons or things that you could share to help with those types of decisions?

Arunah 20:20
Good question. The MSC that I had done was actually the first master’s degree that I had done. And that was while I was still practicing in clinical medicine. For me, it was exploring different areas of work. Like I said, I knew I wanted to do something that was beyond the traditional pathways, and the regenerative medicine and masters seemed interesting at the time, it was something that I explored, I completed that master’s before I actually went into the MPH program. So I did it part time over several years, not as a full time program. And if you ask me, in terms of advice, per se, for people who are looking to go back to school, to me, you need to weigh your pros and cons. You don’t necessarily need a DrPH to practice public health. Sometimes people fail to realize that the work that we do on the ground carries a lot of value, as well, to me, my clinical practice, or my public health operations work brings in a lot of value to the work that I do. So you need to evaluate for yourself, what value that would bring to you. For me, going into the MPH program, like I said, gave me an introduction into the world that I really didn’t know before, I was very much focused on my clinical work and wanted to do a specialty or subspecialty in clinical medicine. But I wanted something to give me a basic overview of what public health could be. And then I realized that I want to focus a little bit more into a specific area. I didn’t do this in ice isolation, while lead putting behind my family or anything like that. So I knew I wanted to grow my family at the time, I remember people are always my colleagues at the time used to always say, every time I see you, you’re always pregnant, or you perpetually pregnant. So when I was doing my first master’s, I was pregnant with my first one. And when I did my second master’s, I was pregnant with my second one, eventually, I had my third child when I was completing the Doctorate in Public Health. To me, balance is very important. But I also had the advantage of amazing family support. Let’s just say, for somebody who is raising a family, and is thinking of going back to school, I think having good support is essential. Time management is core to finally achieving what is it that you want to do. That was very, very, very it, like I say, was a steep learning curve, but it was also a very tight time for me. So I have very young children retrospectively, I don’t know if I’ll do it all over again. But yeah, you know, my children are bigger now. And I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing. And yeah, I guess it was worthwhile, after all, so you need to evaluate those kinds of things, why you want to go back to school, and how that will bring value to your current work. And if you can sort of balance life and school.

Sujani 23:39
Yeah, I love that. I love that. And I often have more to say when my guests share advice around going back to school, but I think you’ve covered everything I would have also said and I think this advice applies at any level, like graduate school, it’s not just when you’re wanting to pursue a doctorate degree, I think it also at the masters level, I- I often share similar advice, like know exactly why you’re going back to school, it shouldn’t be because your job search wasn’t successful. Because once you finish that degree and you come out your resume is going to look exactly the same. So thank you for- For kind of like sharing some of your personal experience and how that was for you, Arunah.

Arunah 24:23
You’re welcome. Yeah, it’s nice to reflect back on your journey once in a while.

Sujani 24:28
Yeah. So after 13 years, 13 and a half years with the Minister of Health in Malaysia, what happened that you decided that you were going to, you know, step into working at the international level, maybe tell us what happened during that period.

Arunah 24:46
So nothing really happened. Specifically while COVID happened.

Sujani 24:51

Arunah 24:51
It was early 2020. I remember thinking that I needed to think about the next steps, what is it that I wanted to do, I wanted to focus in specific areas of NCDs. And a lot of the work that I was doing was around monitoring and evaluation. And I wanted to do that a little bit more. I wanted to also think about how I could mentor my fellow colleagues. And it was during the time that I was given a Commonwealth fellowship by the British government to pursue a fellowship on monitoring and evaluation of NCD interventions. I remember packing up my bags to leave to the UK, before I think it was the day before UK went into a lockdown, a full fledged lock lockdown, I remember it was mid March. And so that didn’t happen. I went back to regular work, a lot of our work and programs had to take a step backwards. So I was working in the disease control Division at the time specifically NCD. But we had to then provide support to our colleagues who are working in the infectious diseases for COVID. But at the same time trying to at the national level, think of strategies and policies to continue NCD care at the primary care level. It was quite frustrating, I’ll be honest with you. But that was a good learning experience. And then it was during that time, some colleagues of mine who reached out from IARC, where I currently work, the International Agency for Research on Cancer. So one of the researchers from the branch that I currently work with reached out to me, and they were doing a research, a sort of an evaluation of the pandemics disruption towards cancer care. And I started talking about that. And they said, you know, we’re trying to evaluate globally, what is happening, and how is it that we can respond better, so I started having a conversation with them at the time. And then just somewhere in 2021, there was an advertisement for a role, a public health role at IARC. That sounded like, we know, when I looked at the job role and specifications, I said, Hey, this is me. You know, this is what I would like to do. And it was in public health operations. But it was a lot on capacity assessment, health systems strengthening, monitoring and evaluation of cancer programs. This is an area that I was interested in. And then so I applied for the position just before the summer of that year, and totally forgot about it, to be honest with you, I did hear back from them assume that didn’t get the role or went back to work and just continued work as usual. And things were starting to be better. We were starting to st strengthen our programs, and was very much excited about what was going on. And it was towards the end, when I heard back from IARC and said, you know, we have a role for you, are you willing to come? So I was like, I was given about, literally, I think about 30 days to resign from my position.

Sujani 28:06
Oh, wow.

Arunah 28:07
Yeah. And to resign from my position and pack my bags and move to France from the time of the offer. And I think from the time I reached here in France was I think, less than 60 days, it was very, very quick. But because I knew that eventually, somebody else will take over my role. I had already sort of like, started a mentoring a fellow colleague who was already shadowing me in my role. So it was a very smooth transition together. As a team, we had done a lot. And I knew that even if I was leaving, I wanted the continuity of program and work that we were doing. We don’t want that sort of disruption, right. So because my colleague worked together with me in my role, and she was already shadowing me, and a big shout out to her, she had to sort of like Elisa, she had to pick up where I left off very, very quickly. So that gave me the confidence to say, hey, I can leave my job with a satisfaction knowing that I’m leaving this position in good hands and moving into a role which I currently am at. So I currently work at. Like I said earlier, the International Agency for Research on Cancer. We are a research arm of WHO focused specifically on cancer, different branches, working on different areas, cancer, and I specifically work on prevention and early detection, which is actually really my area of interest in public health.

Sujani 29:43
That’s, I don’t know how you did that in 30 days, especially having three kids as well, were you Were you preparing them that this might happen?

Arunah 29:51
So they knew at the time that I had interviewed for the role. And so when I first moved, I had moved alone. And eventually I transition my children. I also, during the first year had some opportunities due to flexible working arrangements of COVID, some remote working opportunities. So I was actually settling into a new role in a new country, with my feet, I think, in two different continents at the time, it wasn’t easy. But I think like I said, I had very good family support. And eventually I got to move uproot my family here. And for me, I think being very clear with your employers of your situation, with your family situation, and to set expectations is very important. Even when I had reported for the role I had discussed, and I had mentioned, my family situation, and I knew that I still needed to be remote at some point. And like I said, due to flexible working arrangements at the time, that was possible. And I think realistic expectations is very important. I started off just learning the ropes with one or two different projects, and then moved on to be sort of responsible for a few more, and this two years has been truly an exciting phase of my life. And the possibilities that have come my way, in this role is something I truly appreciate.

Sujani 29:51
That’s amazing. That’s amazing to hear, and good for your kids for being so resilient to like move to a completely different continent at such a young age. So good for them.

Arunah 31:38
Yeah, I think kids are definitely more resilient than adults any day. Yeah, I think they’re not, I think I know, your friendship has definitely improved. So much more than mine has, I will survive at a grocery store in ordering my meals right now. But they don’t stop at that.

Sujani 31:56
Do they know French going to France? Or did they just pick it up there.

Arunah 32:00
Because I had moved earlier, I somehow knew that they would eventually move here to be in a French system, I had started them on French lessons back home, in a French school. So that really helped. I enrolled myself too, but I didn’t learn at the rapid sort of manner that they did. They just absorb way more.

Sujani 32:21
Yeah, it’s incredible. Any advice or tips you can give to anyone listening who’s you know, interested in working at any of the international agencies, you know, with the UN, or the WHO, you know, we’ve- we’ve heard that there’s obviously a systematic process that you have to follow when you’re applying and interviewing. But anything from your experience that you can share that they wouldn’t find like on the website when they are applying?

Arunah 32:51
So WHO you’re right has a sort of a systematic process of suit, they are- that they already know what they want to hear. If you are applying to a specific role, I feel it’s very much important that you look at what the job description is all about. And tailor your CV based on your past experiences and highlight what in your past experiences related to the job. I feel a lot of people are so used to just uploading their CV for jobs or different descriptions. But I think they’ve failed to realize that to an HR Recruiter, who is looking at your CV at the first stage will I mean, I don’t come from a HR background. But I’m assuming this is it, that people often fail to highlight how, even though they have not done that particular sort of responsibility or description or job role, how their previous experience can actually help them do that description or do that job better. And I think one of the most important things that I someone once gave an advice to me is keep a log of all the activities that you do, perhaps I think, an even more organized way to do this at every job or at every shortcodes or long term cost that you’ve done. What were the core values? Or what were the core description of the work? What have you learned from there and to sort of like keep a summary of those things. I feel like as you move from either one position to another, or when education or if you go higher in positions, you might not remember exactly what value you brought to that organization or what description of work that you’ve done. So if you kept a log of that, I think that will be very, very useful. I remember filling up that application for the first time and thinking this is a lengthy process. They wanted to know what I did at every job and this will probably go back 10 years, right? So I needed to think from which year to which year. What did I do? What would my role what value I brought to the organization? You know, so I think it’s important that you look into the job description and keep track of the work on the outputs that you do. What is your values? What is it that you bring to the organization? I think that’s very essential.

Sujani 35:20
Yeah, I think that log is an excellent idea. And it just makes any application so much easier, because it’s almost like your database of all your accomplishments, and you kind of like pull it and you develop a resume, tailored to that specific job.

Arunah 35:35
For me that one advice was very useful. So now I have a dropbox folder in which I keep, you know, courses separately, certification separately, you know, your job description role. It’s not very organized. But you know, after a while, when you find some time to think it’s worthwhile to go through it, and just, you know, keep some good log of what you do. You never know when it will come in handy.

Sujani 35:58
Yeah. Yeah, I need to get mine organized. I think I just have very long kind of like, you know, a master resume that just has everything. And then you have to like pull sections out every time you’re applying to a job. When you look back at, you know, your- what is it- Probably more than a decade of working in public health. And you’re reflecting on all the experiences that you’ve had the decisions you’ve had to make- Do you ever think like, oh, I shouldn’t I should have done this a little bit differently? Or are you pretty happy with the path that you took?

Arunah 36:33
I would say I’m pretty happy with the path that I took. I’m not saying that it was easy, or it was always right. There always learnings from my wrong, you know, I might not have felt it at the time. It was always, oh, I wish I had done things differently. But retrospectively when I look back, there was a reason why that happened. There was a learning from a particular incident. And yeah, so I learned to try to look at things in a positive lens. And I think, yeah, that has definitely helped me. That’s awesome.

Sujani 37:09
Thank you so much Arunah, for spending, you know, just about an hour talking about your journey. And I hope we can have you back on to talk about other decisions that you made in your public health journey, and just hear what you’re up to.

Arunah 37:21
Thank you for having me, Sujani.

Sujani 37:26
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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