I'll admit it, there are times I wish I knew what public health was before I came to graduate school. Don't get me wrong, doing basic science has polished my skills as an investigator and gave me the potential to learn about anything I want to know about. It's just that now I am pretty sure I am ready to learn about something new. "Great!" my boss says, "That's why you post-doc!" Sure, but do you know how easy it is to get into a post-doc and forget that it is supposed to be a stepping stone in your career? What do you really GET out of a post-doc, besides a new letter and a better publication record?
This is one reason I've been really interested in unique post-doc opportunities, programs that are meant to get you more than just another 4 years of experience on the bench. Which brings me back to public health- since I am coming to a realization that I would like to apply my science, really help people in real time, public health keeps coming up. But I don't know anything about epidemiology, or statistics, or ... those other public health things you should know... Which is why the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program seems like such a great opportunity. For the first year, fellows get their Masters in Public Health (MPH) and then they spend a couple years doing research related to cancer prevention with a mentor either at NCI or the FDA. This is one of the transition programs to get a permanent FDA job, as mentioned before.
A few specifics- there is a yearly application cycle for this program. Applications this year are due August 25, and fellows start in June. There are a lot of preceptors (research advisers), hopefully there is something to fit everyone's interests- although most of these looks like they are in DC. Any Irish citizens out there? There is a special application process for you to work at the Northern Ireland NCI.
There may be other programs in non-cancer fields that give you the chance to get an MPH and try out public health research , if you see these, please send them this way! And heck yes, I am applying for this one.