Dr Lesh Satchithananda

Dr Lesh Satchithananda

Research Student

Dr Lesh Satchithananda

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Mode of study: Part-time; Internal face-to-face classes

Country: Australia

Previous Education: Bachelor of Medicine

As a doctor I worked across a few hospitals in Sydney which, while fulfilling, was also frustrating because it was obvious that there were social and economic factors that impacted a person’s health that were well beyond the care I could provide in hospital. I believe that anyone that has had the opportunities I’ve had owes it to their community to give back and give back in a way that not only leverages their personal skills and experiences, but also maximises the value they can add to their community.

I came to a point in my career where I was trying to figure out how I could best impact an individual’s health and the health of my community, beyond what I could accomplish caring for individual patients in a clinical setting. I chose to study Public Health to gain a better understanding of what I could do at a systematic level to improve the health of individuals, my community and all Australians. I chose the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW because it was one of very few Public Health courses that not only offered a wide variety of courses but provided the opportunity to explore particular areas of interest in greater depth.

Most important thing learned

It’s more than okay to have hopeful, progressive, aspirational goals for improving the health of communities. But always be sceptical and take an analytical approach to developing and evaluating solutions because you owe it to the community to ensure the path forward is both ambitious and based on evidence. This applies to all aspects of public health from the appraisal and translation of public health research, to navigating the politicking to ensure health policy is influenced more by evidence than political rhetoric. 

Most challenging thing

At times, balancing work and university coursework was difficult. The challenge for me was determining the pace at which I wanted to progress through the program. Thankfully UNSW SPHCM delivers courses in a variety of modes and offers flexibility in how you progress through the program which made it easier for me to continue to work and study.  

Enjoyed the most

The opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from people with such varied experiences in healthcare both here and abroad was definitely the most enjoyable part of the course. As much as I thought I knew about healthcare, there were always so many more people doing so many more incredible things in the sector both nationally and internationally. Learning from these experiences was not only an interesting academic exercise - it provided lessons that could be taken back to the communities I work with. 

Message to newly commencing students

Keep an open mind – I began the program with a very firm idea of the courses I wanted to study. But, as I progressed through the program, the more I found there were other courses, other ideas I wanted to explore further. 

I took the introductory epidemiology and biostatics course assuming it would be the beginning and end of my foray into these subjects. As it turns out, the course piqued my interest in quantitative analysis and my passion for taking a data-driven approach to improving healthcare.  Counter to my original plan, I went on to study Advanced Epidemiology and Advanced Biostatistics and loved it!  

How degree will assist in your career

Currently, I’m working as a Management Consultant in healthcare. Quantitative analysis of health data and critical appraisal of the health literature to offer evidence-based solutions for our clients is crucial to my work. The lessons I’ve learnt from UNSW have already added immense value to work I’ve done at all levels of the health sector, including working with federal and state governments. This has not only fostered my professional development but has helped fuel my passion for improving the health of all Australians by making change at a systematic level. 

Regardless of what I do, I will always be grateful to UNSW SPHCM for opening my eyes to how change can be made at a systematic level in healthcare, and for providing me with the tools to ensure that any change I might make in the future maximises the value I can add to the community.