Alumni Public Health

How Oregon State’s Online MPH program helped Carter Michell level up

Online MPH program yields immediate results for Oregon State grad

Carter Michell

By Hanna Knowles

Carter Michell, ’14, MPH ’23, graduated from Oregon State University with a kinesiology degree and ambitions to pursue physical therapy school. But when the financial reality hit, he began to question if he was passionate enough about physical therapy to justify taking out student loans to fund the cost of tuition.  

He was unsure of his next step but certain of one thing: “I knew I wanted to work in a health-related field where my work could have an impact on people’s lives.” Cue Oregon State’s online Master of Public Health – Public Health Practice degree program.  

When Carter applied to the program, he had recently started working as a patient access specialist for Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). “I knew I needed the flexibility offered by an online program to work full-time while enrolled. It just so happened that my alma mater offered a strong one!” 

Carter was also drawn to the scope and applicability of topics covered in the program.

“The knowledge gained in this program is wide in scope, and as someone who did not have public health education prior, I feel well-rounded across public health disciplines. It has prepared me for professional-level work in health specialties, wherever I may end up.”

Working smarter, not harder 

For his public health internship, Carter secured a project within his current department but worked in a different capacity – a benefit afforded to working professionals.  

“It was a rewarding experience, and one that has introduced me to aspects of the department I had not yet been involved with.” 

The goal of his internship project was to improve length of stay duration and accuracy of estimated date of discharge for inpatients whose length of stay following head and neck surgery is longer than six days.  

“There are significant public health implications of improving these numbers – especially bed availability in a hospital that has often been stretched past its limit during the past few years of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Carter says.  

His project culminated in a data visualization report and quality improvement plan based on his findings. 

An online Master of Public Health was worth it

Carter is fulfilling his desire to work in the health field and is becoming a public health leader. 

About halfway through the online MPH program, Carter was promoted within the Department of Otolaryngology at OHSU. 

“I know of other applicants who had been in the same department longer than me, but did not have the same level of education at the time,” he says. “I think pursuing my MPH contributed a great deal to getting promoted.”