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Ian McHale Works Toward a Career in Public Health and Pediatrics

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Ian McHale is happiest when he’s working face-to-face with pediatric patients.

The UVM alumnus earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 2017 and completed the UVM Accelerated Master of Public Health program the following year. He’s now a clinical research coordinator for the Office of Clinical Trials Research at the UVM Larner College of Medicine.

McHale enrolled in the UVM Accelerated Master of Public Health program to learn more about disease prevention and management, how to identify and assess population needs, and implement population interventions.

An Accelerated Public Health Program

The Accelerated Master of Public Health program is designed for UVM undergraduate students wishing to complete both their undergraduate degree and masters degree in five years.

“It was a busy five years completing the program with my undergraduate degree,” he says. “But I loved discussing public health on a daily basis with other students and the faculty.”

The program helps students:

  • Evaluate and improve the health of various populations
  • Work with a network of professionals in healthcare, government agencies, and non-profit organizations
  • Navigate the levels of community resources
  • Identify changes to healthcare systems and requirements for accountability
  • Implement new models for population-based medical practice

For the past five years, McHale has also volunteered on the pediatric floor of the UVM Medical Center. When he was a UVM student, he was a mentor in the DREAM program, which pairs college students with children from affordable housing neighborhoods to foster strong relationships and bridge the opportunity gap. Both of those experiences helped shape McHale’s vision for what he wants to do with his career.

“At graduation, I knew I wanted public health to be my primary job,” he says. “My previous goal was to go to medical school, but that’s changed. Now I want to work in a department of health and focus on public health and pediatrics.”

Gaining Experience at UVM Medical Center

At the UVM Office of Clinical Trials Research, McHale is gaining experience working with pediatric patients enrolled in clinical research trials.

“My job is patient-facing and I work on studies from start to finish. I’m getting studies approved, approaching and enrolling subjects, and following them for the length of the trials,” McHale says. “We do vitals, draw blood, and collect biological samples.”

One of the most noteworthy studies he’s working on is a fast paced project with Kelly Cowan, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist and assistant professor at the UVM Larner College of Medicine. The study is to test a polio vaccine with patients between the ages of 18-20.

“What makes that study stand out for me the most is how interactive it’s been with that particular population,” he says. “Also, the global and public health implications of this study are far reaching.”

Eventually, McHale sees himself locating to a larger metropolitan area to find his dream job in public health and pediatrics.

“I really enjoy the patient-facing piece,” he says. “How do I work in a department of health or somewhere similar and do research and engage with pediatric patients? I’m not sure what’s out there for me, but it’s a path I’m trying to figure out.”

Learn more about UVM’s Accelerated Master of Public Health program