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SUNY Downstate SPH Student Spotlight

Photo of George Koutsouras

George Koutsouras

MPH Program with an Advising Concentration in Epidemiology

photo Koutsouras on site in Ghana, 2011

What was your educational and work experience prior to enrolling in the MPH/DrPH program at SUNY Downstate?

After high school in Queens, NY, I attended the New York Institute of Technology where I studied Biology. Following that, I received a Certificate in Global Health from NYIT's Center for Global Health. As part of the certificate program, I traveled to the country of Ghana, where I participated in qualitative research and received basic clinical training in a rural medical clinic. Throughout college, I was fortunate enough to work alongside medical and research professionals at both Zucker Hillside Psychiatric Hospital and North Shore University Huntington Hospital.

What brought you to the field of Public Health?

With a degree in Public Health you have the knowledge to transform communities; impact health on a grand scale. I have been focused on a career in health for many years, for both personal and academic reasons, but the idea of making positive change not just for an individual, but for an entire population was all it took to get me in the field.

photo Koutsouras in transit with the assessment team, Ghana 2011

Could you tell us about the fieldwork you've done while at SUNY Downstate?

I knew coming into the MPH program that I wanted to return to Sub-Saharan Africa for my field experience. I returned to the Oworobong Clinic in Ghana where I had worked previously. The area around the clinic is plagued with malaria endemicity, poor infrastructure, and social and economic disparity. Since the area lacked paved roads and basic energy resources, no comprehensive information was available on the number of people potentially served by the clinic or about their healthcare needs. I created a Demographic and Health Accessibility community-based survey that was administered to the residents of villages surrounding the Oworobong Clinic. The survey collected information on basic demographic data and healthcare access. Using the clinic as a base, each day I traveled by foot with a research team to nearby villages to administer the survey. By the end of the three week study period, 392 households had been surveyed.

How has your experience in the MPH program prepared you for a career in public health?

The scholastic setting is of course crucial in learning the fundamentals of Public Health, and the MPH courses have been excellent. Conducting field work while concurrently studying at SUNY Downstate "gets your feet wet" in putting those fundamentals into practice. Each day that I have been at Downstate I have gained the knowledge and the confidence to enact and implement successful research studies, and to assess, evaluate, and manage public health programs.

outdoor photo

What type of work do you hope to do after completing your Public Health degree at Downstate?

I believe I can grow the most in a challenging public health arena where I can adapt and continue to learn. The field of International Children's Health intrigues me the most. After some time doing global public health work, I hope to eventually study clinical medicine and practice in a primary care setting.