Nan Chen, PhD

West China School of Public Health, Sichuan University
Biostatistics, Health Policy, and Maternal Health

What does public health mean to you?

Public health is an area focused on dealing with issues associated with the protection and promotion of community health which involves sanitation, immunization, and preventive medicine. For me, public health is a major that I have been studying since I entered the university, and it has affected many of my daily behaviors. My academic experience from accomplishing various public health-related works has enabled me to have a deeper understanding of issues associated with population health via thinking from the perspective of socioeconomic factors.

What inspired you to study public health?

My curiosity about the medical field was the initial motivation that stimulated my passion and enthusiasm for working for health-related occupations as my future career path. After obtaining some basic understanding about what public health has been set up for, I was deeply impressed by the significant impact that public health-related occupations and studies might potentially have on the whole society in terms of providing practical implications that can be extensively adopted in various health-related areas. In an age of information technology when the capacity of collecting and processing data has been constantly improved, discovering evidence and rules embedded in health-related data will be such an exciting thing to do for public health researchers which facilitate the explanation for health-related social phenomena from the perspective of population groups.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career or studies so far?

The most rewarding experience I have gained so far is communicating with some excellent people in the field of public health. As I have been focused on studying in the field of health statistics as a practical subject to be applied to a wide range of health-related areas, I have gained valuable experiences discussing with healthcare workers as well as governmental officers in order to help them find solutions for public health-related issues.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing public health today?

I think the lack of human resources is the biggest challenge facing public health today, especially in China where the lack of publicity for public health-related occupations has resulted in a low degree of public recognition for public health workers. As the consequence, few students would think about devoting themselves to public health-related occupations as their future career paths.

What advice would you offer someone who is thinking about a career in public health? 

Please never lose your passion for pursuing the field of public health as a promising field that will create various career opportunities and occupational achievements. Keep in mind that theoretical study should always be performed along with practice.