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DFPH (Diplomate Faculty of Public Health)

Understanding DFPH - Dr F. Makama

This is the step 1 exam of the MFPH (membership exam of Public Health, here in the UK). It is a dreaded exam with a very little pass rate. Bank questions are hidden and doing MPH here in the UK, though may help, is still nowhere a guarantee to success. The information needed is cumbersome; technicalities and terminologies excessive in the syllabus. You rarely hear of this exam amongst Public Health enthusiasts as it is just too difficult to pass.

But everything is possible, especially if we try and believe in ourselves. - Dr F. Makama

Here are the tips to my success. The following books are recommended as you embark on a 9-10 months, 20 hours/week study: 1. Oxford Handbook of Public health 2. Essential public Health by Donaldson & Donaldson 3. Sociology of Health and illness by Sarah Nettleton 4. Understanding organisations by Charles Hardy 5. Understanding Clinical papers by Bowens, House & Owens 6. Research Methods in Health by Ann Bowling 7. Statistics Square one and Statistics Square Two by Swinscow and Campbell 8. Understanding Statistics by Daniel B. Wright For those who have done their MPH outside the UK (especially those coming from Nigeria), I will recommend these extra books. As a matter of fact, start with them: 9. Sociology of Medicine by Scrambler 10. Sociology by Anthony Gidden (Just read the chapter on “Health”) 11. Social Policy by Baldock et al (just read the chapter on “Health Services”)

So, how do you go about this? a. Have a 9 -10 months plan (9 months for those who did their MPH here in the UK, 10 months or even more for those who did theirs outside).

b. Books (1), (2) and (3) should be covered for 2 months. If you did your MPH outside 9ja, then add an extra month to also add books (9), (10) and (11).

c. Books (4), (5) and (6) for another 2 months.

d. Books (7) and ( for the next 2 months.

e. Then the 7th and 8th months (8th and 9th months for those who are on a 10 months timetable) should be used for a rigorous and thorough internet research (the use of google, Wikipedia and published journals) to adequately follow and cover the syllabus. Take it topic by topic and do a thorough internet research for new ideas and a broad spectrum of knowledge. You can download it here:

f. Also, while on (e), do well to go through the Grimes and Shulz 15 Lancet journals on Epidemiology research. You’ll get enough information from them (but you’ll need to purchase these journals from Lancet website), it’s not mandatory, though.

g. Then your final month (the 9th or the 10th month) should be used for revision. Read through all your notes and as well book and go for a revision course. The best so far is the one being organized by Birmingham University. It is about €250 for a 3 to 5 day-intensive exposition on how to go about answering the questions, techniques to use, what to avoid and what to apply. This course is revealing and eye opening. You will need to book early as spaces are usually filled up 2 months to the time. Here is the link:

NOTE: 1. You need not do MPH here in the UK before you pass the MFPH examinations. Yes, doing MPH here in the UK gives you an advantage but this advantage is very very very very slim.

2. With the SOL, we recently talked about, consultants in Public Health and corresponding professionals with equated years of experience can work in managerial capacities without writing the MFPH exams. Nonetheless, passing the MFPH exams puts one in the greatest advantage.

3. I highly recommend Birmingham University if you have the MFPH examinations in mind, but there are also other very good universities which also dedicate some courses to cover the syllabus to some extent and they are: a. Oxford University b. Imperial college c. Kings college d. Derby University e. Hull University f. Woverhampton University. Please, take note, I did not say the others do not offer MPH or run an MPH program, but these aforementioned ones do not only run it, they are also MFPH examination focused, to some degree.

4. The Grimes and Schulz’s Lancet Journals you should focus on (if interested) are as follows: a. An overview of clinical research, the lay of the hand: b. Descriptive studies, what they can do and cannot do: c. Bias and causal associations in observational research: d. Cohort studies, marching towards outcomes: e. Case control studies: research in reverse: f. Generation of allocation sequences in randomized trials: Chance, not choice: g. Allocation concealment in randomized trials: defending against deciphering: h. Blinding in randomized trials: hiding who got what: i. Sample size slippages in randomized trials: exclusions and the lost and wayward: j. Uses and abuses of screening tests: k. Epidemiology research: l. Sample size calculations in randomized trials: mandatory and mystical: m. Compared to what? Finding controls for case-control studies: n. Refining clinical diagnosis with likelihood ratios: o. Multiplicity in randomized trials II: subgroup and interim analyses:

These journals are not mandatory to follow, but they will help a great deal if you add them to your knowledge as you prepare for the DFPH examination. Once again, they are not free to acquire from the Lancet website.

All The Best!!

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