Last week, Sabin President Dr. Peter Hotez gave advice on how to pursue and succeed in a global health career path during an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Global Health student group webcast.
“The field has gotten so complex, that the idea you have to be a scientist is no longer the case,” Dr. Hotez reassured students tuning in. The beauty of global health is that “we need people to come at it from very different angles.” Engineering, epidemiology, communications, research and science are all specializations that can offer meaningful public health exposure for professionals — and make a measureable impact, too.
Many of the questions asked by students pertained to balancing demanding workloads and multiple interests in jobs. Dr. Hotez suggested that they try to set priorities and specific goals — tasks he takes seriously. “Even write them down, so you have something to show for your activities at the end of the year. It’s very important to have a five-year roadmap,” Dr. Hotez commented.
Dr. Hotez also recognized the importance of mentorship — whether just at the beginning of a career, or decades into it. But, he noted, “mentoring is not something you get passively. Don’t be afraid to make appointments and ask to visit people.” Even Dr. Hotez “is not too old to learn things” and is committed to seeking out and engaging with mentors to hone new skills.
Of course, the webcast also covered neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a focus of Dr. Hotez’s throughout his professional life. As it turns out, he had a passion for NTDs since he was 12 years old. Coupled with his fascination of maps, his interest in NTDs kick-started his career in a laboratory. These days, Dr. Hotez is leading the Sabin Product Development Partnership’s (Sabin PDP) laboratories in Houston and advocating for G20 leaders and other policymakers to recognize the concept he calls Blue Marble Health (wherever there is poverty, NTDs pose a threat), among many other activities.
Dr. Hotez also told the webcast audience that his greatest accomplishments included raising awareness for NTDs and helping to formulate the concept of what NTDs are as a group.
As for the best piece of career advice? Dr. Hotez stressed, “The concept of resilience. Remember, everybody goes through difficult periods. Be tenacious, keep working at it.”
Speaking of careers: We have some openings at Sabin! Read more here.