Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Yanela Aravena

Yanela Aravena

MSc Dental Public Health Class of 2018

Internship Coordinator and Dental Public Health Researcher
Faculty of Dentistry, Universidad de la Frontera, Chile
Full testimonial

My interest in public health started because I saw that dental health services and commonly used oral health promotion and prevention programmes were not as effective to improve the oral health of the population around me.

While trying to understand the reasons why this happened, I came across papers published by professors working at UCL Dental Public Health Department. They focused on understanding the underlying factors that shape oral health inequalities in communities and the importance of structural determinants in health. This made sense to me as the reason why current approaches were not as effective as they should and so I decided to apply to MSc in Dental Public Health.

Upon arriving, I was welcomed by the programme team and met new classmates from different parts of the world, this multicultural environment enriched the learning process. From the beginning, a safe and encouraging environment was promoted so we could learn and discuss our opinions regarding dental public health topics.

Eight modules and a final dissertation comprised the course. Modules included lectures and practical sessions as well as final assignments to evaluate our learning.  Lecturers were always willing to answer our questions during the course and Moodle was a great tool where we could find lectures, reading material and to stay in contact with classmates and professors.

For our dissertation project, we were assigned a supervisor who would help us choose a topic according to our interest and then help us to develop a good dissertation giving us advice in each step.

The MSc also gave me the opportunity to learn from several guest lecturers working in different areas such as advocacy, policymaking, planning and research; as well as participate in meetings to learn what was being done at the moment regarding research and policymaking.

After the end of my MSc studies, I returned to Chile to work as a researcher at University of La Frontera, a public institution located in a region known for its high rurality, ethnic population and poverty. My interest is to study inequalities in oral health to better understand the factors shaping oral health in our context and to hopefully contribute to implementing effective oral health public policies.

My time as an MSc student is something I will always remember. This is a programme of excellence led by world-class researchers located in an incredible city. I encourage everyone who is thinking about following this path to do so.