UB Alumni Profile – Dr. Ju Joh, MD, MPH

Link To Original Post | University at Buffalo Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

A graduate of SPHHP’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program, Ju Joh recently completed his medical residency with UB Family Medicine. He is associate director of Mobile Primary Care, which offers primary healthcare to the home-bound and home-limited and provides convenient, detailed and service-oriented medical care.

Through Joh’s efforts Mobile Primary Care is also a new site for SPHHP MPH students to complete their field training experience, a required component of the MPH program. Find out more about Joh, below.

What are you doing in your career right now?

I’m working at Mobile Primary Care, helping to get more access to people who lack healthcare. Many of our patients are elderly in sub-acute rehabilitation or living in long-term care facilities. We often go into the community, focusing on Medicare patients who might not be able to get to appointments. We go to their home to see their environment and take care of them there. We also work with many partners in Buffalo to provide a range of other services, like ultrasound and telemedicine, in the home.

Currently, I’m focusing on the use of technology to help fill the gaps of care. For instance, I’m working on a project that helps fill the need for care in rural areas. We provide immediate care at a local rural middle school through telemedicine and tele-psychiatry, where school nurses conduct a live-video conference with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Parents can also participate.

Why did you decide to get a degree in public health?

The attending physician during my field training was heavily into public health, and he introduced me to his work. I wanted to not just focus on individuals but also on populations as a whole. I also wanted to learn where healthcare is going and where we came from, ultimately to identify areas in healthcare that could be changed and be more efficient. Now, my current role allows me to look at the social determinants of health.

How would you characterize the education you received at SPHHP?

It was great. I had professors who had extensive knowledge of the United States healthcare system’s policies. Also, learning about biostatistics; how to read research articles well and extract the information you need; how to avoid the pitfalls of confounding factors—these were all helpful. I’m a better physician because I know how to sort out what’s evidence based and what’s not. Even mock-writing for grants was useful. Because I was part of the MPH hospital administration track, I took some classes with MBA students where we looked at real-world problems like budgets and the financial burden of a program. That helped me look outside medicine to what you might need to deal with as a manager.

I also did things in addition to what I needed to do to graduate, like getting involved with integrated projects. I tried to find things that make a difference and spent time and resources on them.

What is your favorite memory of your time at SPHHP?

I worked on organization-building with the Millennium Group on a project called Million Hearts Initiative, which tries to raise hypertension awareness in African-American communities. I conducted screenings along with medical students and faculty. I already had the title of doctor while I was in the public health program, so when people would come to the screenings, I would find out which diseases they had or which medicines they took. Then, I could show them in detail, on my laptop hooked up to a monitor with anatomy software, what certain conditions, like fibrillation, look like.

How did your SPHHP education prepare you for what you’re doing now?

I met people who are working toward the goal of making sure people have better access to healthcare, people trying to make a difference. The Public Health program was a big factor in deciding where I wanted to be and how I could make an impact. I learned there’s a real need for innovative interventions to fill the gaps in healthcare.

Why is public health an important profession and why should someone consider a degree in it?

If you look globally, the people who make greatest impact all are doing public health, whether or not they would call it that. For instance, vaccine development, genetic modification of crops to include more vitamins—those are all public health efforts. These people make a huge impact on people’s daily lives.

Public health is perfect if you don’t want to be stuck in a place doing the same thing every day without any sense of innovation or the ability to make change. If you love a challenge, find a public health problem, and go figure out the answer. If you have an idea, people will work with you to make things happen.

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