SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
School of Public Health
Mamta Karani, PharmD, MPH, BCPS
Hometown: Bayonne, New Jersey
Degree(s), Concentration, and Class Year at SUNY Downstate: MPH, Epidemiology, Class of 2020
Undergraduate Major: PharmD at Rutgers University, Class of 2012
Current Profession: Clinical Pharmacist
Community involvement: Course coordinator/Adjunct Faculty for Care of Diverse Populations, Notre Dame of Maryland University, School of Pharmacy ● Board member for Pharmacists for Single Payer
Award(s) Received: Lenard and Christine Szarek Award from SUNY June 2019 ● Leaders in Faculty Diversity Award from Rutgers University April 2017
Click here for Mamta Karanis LinkedIn profile
1. Why did you choose to study at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health (SPH)? Did SPH meet your expectations?
I wanted to study at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health because I was looking for a well-connected local program that was affordable, was conducive to full-time workers, had a strong focus on application-based practice, and had a curriculum emphasizing care for the underserved, vulnerable and immigrant populations. The program not only met my expectations but greatly exceeded them.
2. What was the most memorable experience or advice you received during your time at SPH that struck you as particularly meaningful?
One day after the introductory epidemiology class, Dr. Elizabeth Helzner and I were discussing the complexities and advantages of big data. Based on five minutes of conversation, she soon connected me with several faculty members including Dr. Lori Hoepner and Dr. Michael Joseph. Through these connections, I was able to build great relationships with several faculty members, create opportunities to do research, and make the most of my experience even while working full time. Whether serving as a teacher, mentor, or colleague, Dr. Helzner continues to support my learning and motivates me to do more.
3. Which SPH community member (e.g. faculty, staff, mentor, fellow classmates) influenced you the most and why?
While I loved the entire faculty staff and their dedication in supporting us in every way possible, my fellow classmates influenced me the most. With their wide range of experience, backgrounds, and passion in improving the health of underserved populations, my classmates made learning enjoyable and motivated me to push further. Even today, I am fortunate to be close to my SPH family. We continue to engage in conversations and opportunities to push the needle a little further.
4. Where has life taken you since you graduated from SPH? How has your experience at Downstate SPH prepared you for your career?
My intention in obtaining my MPH was to gain expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodology so that I could one day work in a non-traditional setting that combined both clinical practice and public health. However, towards the end of my graduate program, COVID-19 hit and I was fortunate to practice clinically with three different organizations. While I have not yet transitioned to a higher-level public health position, Downstate SPH has helped to sharpen my skills and has successfully helped me communicate barriers and potential solutions to high-level decision makers. Working with a diverse student and faculty body, I have also become more confident of who I am and found the strength needed to use my voice to fight for the health of our local community members.
5. Could you describe your current profession? What is the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of your profession?
I work as a clinical pharmacist in a health care system. I specifically focus on identifying and addressing barriers to care during transitions between the community setting to the acute care setting. The most rewarding aspect is working with a multidisciplinary team of physicians, case managers, social workers, nurses, patients, and their family members, to proactively identify, address, and resolve barriers to patient care and medication therapy. The most challenging aspect is knowing there are systemic barriers that disproportionately affect the underserved that need to be acknowledged and addressed in the US healthcare system and increasing awareness in an already complex field.
6. What advice do you have for prospective students?
I truly enjoyed graduate school because of the quality of the education, the people, and the flexibility. Nevertheless, this program is far from easy. If your interest is to truly make a difference in the underserved community and you are willing to put in the work, this program can be the best 2-3 years of your life.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
My goal is to improve healthcare access and delivery at a systems-level by addressing
social determinants of health affecting the underserved populations. I look forward
to the opportunity to work at a local or regional health agency such as NYCDOHMH,
USAID, or CDC or at a corporate level of a health system such as New York Presbyterian
or NYC Health and Hospitals.