Skip to Main Content

Executive Online MPH Program’s Remote Learning Is Perfect Match for Busy Physician Assistant

October 27, 2021

The Executive Online MPH program at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) interviews Kylie Tanabe as the program celebrates its inaugural academic year by highlighting the experiences of some of the first students to enroll in the program.

Why did you choose to attend the Yale School of Public Health’s Executive Online MPH program?

KT: I loved the appeal of going to such a prestigious public health program, but with the flexibility of continuing my career as a physician assistant/associate in hand and reconstructive surgery. It also allows me to continue my work within leadership at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and with Ohana One, the nonprofit I helped found.

What is your current occupation?

KT: I work in hand and reconstructive surgery at Cedars Sinai in LA as a PA (Physician Assistant/Associate).

What are your favorite aspects of the Executive Online MPH program?

KT: The cohort for sure! Everyone is incredible. This cohort has gone above and beyond to support each other through the crazy stresses between work-school-life balance. It really has been the most supportive cohort I’ve ever been a part of, and I already can tell this is a lifelong bond with all of us. And to think this strong bond has all been virtually through zoom! It’s such an incredible experience in an executive program, as everyone is working full time and has so much diverse life experience to bring to the program, in addition to what we are learning. I especially appreciate that in most classes we are discussing pertinent real-life public health problems and how they are being addressed in real time. 2021 is an incredibly exciting time to be learning public health!

How do you balance working full time with the demands of the program?

KT: It’s a bit tough! My hours are crazy working in surgery, so it’s up at very early hours and typically I’m not done until 6-8pm. I do my best to schedule patient visits according to the class schedule so they end earlier for me to make the classes (as I’m on LA time), and also do my best to make the lectures on surgery days. Otherwise, it’s all about planning ahead and doing your best with time management to get the most out of this program and all the incredible learning we are being offered!

How do you hope to apply the training and education you receive through the Executive Online MPH program to your future endeavors?

KT: I helped start the nonprofit organization Ohana One in 2019 after I lived and worked in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on a long-term medical mission. Ohana One establishes long-term sustainable surgical training programs by creating mentor relationships and using advanced smart glasses technology. Health care professionals in places such as PNG have limited access to mentors. Annual missions are not enough for surgeons to fine tune their skills. Thus, the idea of utilizing smart glasses technology for remote surgical training began. This technology allows us to train surgeons in real time as if we are in that country operating with them, throughout the year.

I wanted to get my MPH to think in a different way than my health care professional training gave me. In other words, I wanted to develop my focus from a one-patient mentality to looking at the community as a whole and see things in a different perspective with a more holistic public health approach. I think this different mentality is crucial to helping as many people as possible with medical missions and surgical mentorships such as those provided by Ohana One.

Would you recommend the Executive Online MPH degree program to others and why?

KT: ABSOLUTELY! This executive program has been such a life-changing decision for me. The networking with the cohort alone, and the relationships with the professors are amazing. Our biostats professor (shoutout to Assistant Clinical Professor Mike Wininger) has already been a major help with the research I am doing with my work. This program does an incredible job at remote learning and teaching, I am constantly excited about the topics we discuss, and look forward to our engaging class discussions every week!

Submitted by Denise Meyer on October 27, 2021