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Alumni in Focus - Darrell Gale

DARRELL GALE (PUBLIC Health 2008)

Darrell Gale

Darrell graduated with an MSc in Public Health in 2008 and is currently the Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council. 

Here he talks about his experience as a postgraduate student at BSMS and how his MSc has helped to develop and further his career in this sector.    

Where are you now? 

I am the Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, just down the road from Falmer at County Hall, Lewes. I have been here for a year now, and previously held consultant posts in Wiltshire and Berkshire, including working as Acting Director across several Berkshire councils for eight months. I was accepted on to the Public Health Training Scheme in London while I was part way through my MSc at BSMS, which I began when I was working locally in Horsham for the district council and Primary Care Trust in a joint health improvement role. Public health training is a multidisciplinary affair, with an almost 50:50 balance of registrars from medicine and those from other disciplines. My first degree is in architecture, and with an arts background, I am about as far from medicine as you can be, and yet both the MSc and training programme were able to motivate me and enable me to weave this background into my learning.

 

What has been your proudest moment?

I was recently asked to coordinate a visit to Hastings by the new Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, where I was able to show him some of the assets and challenges that co-exist in this very special East Sussex town. The visit enabled me to make real the wide number of determinants of health that are social, economic or environmental in origin, which, when impacting on a whole population, can directly lead to demand for NHS services.

What are your favourite memories of BSMS?

The wide variety of backgrounds among both students and staff really made for some interesting and exciting debates and really encouraged us all to look at health and public health from a variety of perspectives.

 

What or who has inspired you most in life?

I am most inspired by those early LGBT rights activists especially those who fought so hard for understanding and support during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Some, such as Derek Jarman, are sadly no longer with us. Others like Peter Tatchell are still proudly active. Their determination to seek equal rights and to challenge pervading medical practice make them true public health pioneers.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I can’t remember who said it, but it was probably when I was attempting to get a job in HIV prevention with my degree in architecture, and finding this a bit of an uphill struggle. Someone said, “It’s not where you’re coming from, it’s where you’re going to that’s important." Never a truer word!

 

What do you feel has been the biggest benefit from studying at BSMS?

The focus on reflecting on our practice and learning from local work really allowed me to embed my learning and to challenge my assumptions. I hope to be able to continue this, as here at East Sussex we both offer F2 placements and provide a training location for registrars. I hope that I will be able to welcome any current students or alumni who are considering a career in public health to join us soon. 

Describe BSMS in 3 words

Diverse, grounded, and motivating.