Pilar Martin, M.D., M.P.H., has gone from a physician in rural Spain to a public health educator at Adelphi is now the College's director of public health.
by Rebecca Benison ’11
The College of Nursing and Public Health’s new director of public health since September 2015 is a medical doctor who decided to focus on public health to solve health inequalities. Assistant Professor Pilar Martin, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.S.A., who was interim director of the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program at the College since June 2015, also hopes to share her significant international experience with her students
Changes she and others envision within the next few years at the College include:
- Accreditation of the Public Health program by the Council on Education for Public Health.
- Adding undergraduate-level public health courses and the option to major in the subject. A public health minor is now going through the approval process. Adelphi’s faculty senate this fall will review the minor, which will not be limited to nursing majors.
Dr. Martin has earned multiple professional degrees from prestigious institutions around the world, including an M.P.H. from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, a medical degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain and a Master of Health Services Administration from Florida International University (FIU).
Her experiences working as a physician in rural Spain allowed her to see that improving people’s health is a community, not an individual, effort. Seeing numerous patients suffer from the same health issues prompted her to make the switch from medical doctor to public health educator. Rather than simply treating the problems, she sought to solve them.
Her decision led her to Miami, where she worked for the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County from 2001 to 2007.
“This was a huge, valuable experience. I learned firsthand, and from the field, the health inequalities that minorities and the underserved population experience,” she said. “I landed in public healthcare coming from a clinical background, and I discovered how a collaborative relationship between medicine and public health is possible.”
Dr. Martin’s role as assistant professor at FIU in Miami in 2007 and at the University of West Florida in Pensacola (2012) allowed her to instill in the next generation of public health practitioners a sincere concern for and understanding of the implications of healthcare inequality among diverse populations.
Dr. Martin is focused on fostering an interest in public health that extends beyond borders. During her tenure at FIU, she founded the International Health Connection (IHC), a nonprofit organization where she continues to serve as executive director. Her students in public health and other disciplines have traveled to Haiti to practice clinical and examination skills and provide health-related services to the people of Haiti.
IHC is perhaps the greatest representation of Dr. Martin’s commitment to public health. The idea grew out of her volunteer work in Haiti and culminated in the formation of an organization capable of doing much for impoverished communities.
She intends to further that work at Adelphi.
“We plan to continue offering an international experience to our students in an interdisciplinary approach,” she said, “not only in public health but other specialties as well.”
Dr. Martin also is looking forward to introducing Adelphi’s study abroad students to the vital work IHC performs in Haiti as well as the Caribbean and Latin America.
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