What is an MPH? Chicago health educator defends her credentials

 
 

By Jasmine Jafferali

Healthy Jasmine
 

Many times in my professional life I have had to defend my MPH degree. Yes, I understand it is not common like a MD, JD, MS or an MBA, but it certainly doesn't mean miles per hour. MPH stands for Master's in Public Health, which I proudly put behind my name. It is not for show; it explains that I have furthered my education beyond my undergrad degree and have credibility in public health education.

My area of focus was in healthcare administration and maternal/infant health education. My career path did not take me where I intended after I graduated, but definitely grateful the experiences and where it placed me in life. I am sure many of you can relate.

But what bothers me is when I have to defend my MPH to other professionals, including dietitians. The one thing I do not proclaim to be is an RD (Registered Dietitian) or a "Nutritionist." The term "Nutritionist" is a bogus term that anyone can use, even if they read a nutrition article online. I've had rude professionals attack me virtually, many of whom I have ignored. Yet I've had RDs pay me for my knowledge. Issues I have been discussing for years is now in the forefront. RDs are taking a stand and have formed their own group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity.

A Master's in Public Health degree focuses on the various practices of public health as opposed to researching or teaching. We have the ability to integrate our interdisciplinary schools of thought based on science, research, history of public health and the future of public health. Early on, I knew with my undergrad in Exercise Physiology, I wanted to take a proactive approach to health care and bridge the gap between public health and preventive medicine through lifestyle and wellness choices. My MPH has fully allowed me to do just that.

What I do is research to better my clients' health, help my son's digestive issues and better myself as a professional. The info I provide to you is purely for educational purposes, not to treat or diagnose anyone.

I am a health educator. I also do meet privately for one-on-one lifestyle and wellness consults, because I cover more than just nutrition. I will refer a person elsewhere when an issue is out of my scope of practice and have many times unofficially "diagnosed" people with the illness or ailment bothering them.

I had one doctor tell me I should have gone to med school. I take that as a compliment.

In February, I had the privilege to speak at a conference for future fitness professionals at a local university. I was invited to speak as a local professional and I chose the topic that I have spoken on before. When I introduced myself I believe I was clear what my MPH was and what I do. One of the comments really got to me. It said, "She is not an RD and most of her research is self-researched. I think she scared a lot of people in this room."

First of all, if I scared you, I made you think. When I opened up I said I was going to make them think differently about their food and vitamin supplements, it wasn't meant to be a scare tactic. When you force someone to think outside what they've been taught, change happens. I want to empower you to question everything you put into your mouth.

Second, yes I research what I put into my PowerPoint presentation myself, so I guess it was "self-researched," but doesn't mean I made it up either.

Third, I know I am not an RD and don't pretend to be one. Even the Cleveland Clinic allows someone with an MPH to give out nutritional advice, up there with RDs and MDs, so that makes me feel a little better.

There you have it, why I proudly put MPH behind my name. And if you want more out-of-the-box health info, be sure to follow me on Facebook at Healthy Jasmine.

 
 







 
 
 
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