Pooja Doshi graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in May of 2013 with a Bachelor's of Science in Neurobiology and Physiology. She then attended Georgetown University and obtained her opthalmic physician assistant certification to futher her passion for work in eye care. After graduating from Georgetown University, she decided to pursue an MPH in the online Public Health Practice and Policy program at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Hoping to pursue international work in eye health care, Pooja works as a government contractor for the Vision Center of Excellence with the Veterans Affairs Hospital to extend her clinical knowledge and experience by providing eye health care aid to veterans. 

What inspired you to study public health? 

My passion was to always work in eye care since high school. I was on a pre-optometry track throughout college when I worked on a HIV/AIDS project in Lesotho, Africa while working as a student contractor with the U.S. Naval Research Lab during my senior year. I found that as much as I wanted to be a part of the clinical aspect of eye care, I wanted to also be a part of the public health aspect because working towards bringing a health care community together reaped greater rewards for me. 

Why did you choose public health at UMD?

I chose public health at UMD mostly because I wanted to have local access to the school while I live in the DMV [DC-Maryland-Virginia] area. I also attended UMD for undergrad, and they were the best four years of my life. 

Why did you select the MPH in Public Health Practice and Policy degree program?

I selected the MPH in Public Health Practice and Policy degree program because I am a full-time working professional who needed to gain work experience, as well as pursue a graduate degree that coincided with my career goals. I needed a program that could work around my full-time schedule and have professors that understand being a student and a full-time working individual is hard work and not to be taken lightly. 

How has your degree program at the UMD School of Public Health shaped your career goals?

My degree program at UMD has helped shape my career goals in that I am more sure than ever that I want to pursue work in global eye health care. I don't have any qualms about forgoing optometry school and pursing only a clinician track. I hope to even further my education after I complete my MPH with possibly a secondary Master's program or a Ph.D. with a focus in global health care. 

What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?

One experience that has had a great impact on me during my time in the MPH program is my eye health care service trip to Trinidad, which I took back in December of 2015. It was a four day clinic trip with 21 volunteers to provide cataract and glaucoma screenings to three clinic sites (Charaguas, Sangre Chikito, and Rio Claro) located throughout the country of Trinidad. My job was to perform Tonometry and Retinoscopy for 12-14 hour shifts at each site. Together, we screened a total of 1,132 patients of various age groups. It was by far the hardest I had ever worked in my entire life, but I would not change a second of it. It taught me to respect underrepresented populations, home or abroad, and why it is important to advocate for them when you have the clinical skills and knowledge that can help a whole population. I hope my work with our veterans and active duty members will shape me for my upcoming role in the global eye health care community.