Manchester Calling

The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Richard (Rick) Rohleder is a recent, international graduate of the online MSc in Global Health programme. Initially, Rick enrolled into the postgraduate certificate, however after delving into the curriculum, his aspirations changed and he completed the full three-year course. Married for 26 years, Rick and his wife are the parents of two young men and they currently reside in a seaside community near Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. Rick shares aspects of his background and how it sparked his interest in this Global Health programme.

Richard Rohleder

I’ve always enjoyed reading and learning about health sciences, world geography, international cultures and global capitalism. After completing an undergraduate degree in business administration and economics, I was able to combine my interests into a career in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry. Working in sales, marketing and training management roles at companies, ranging from small start-ups to multi-national corporations, has provided me with over twenty-five years of valuable experience. My most rewarding work has been supporting organizations driven towards improving health and the eradication of diseases for patients throughout the world. Specifically, my involvement in the commercialization of breakthrough life-saving medicines and novel medical technologies has provided me insight on how access to these innovations leads to positive outcomes for individual patients.

Early in my career, I became concerned about the lack of, and barriers to, essential medicines reaching individuals suffering with infectious diseases. During the early 1990s, I was working as a Medical Service Representative for a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation. I provided clinical data and patient education information regarding the company’s line of anti-infectives to primary care physicians and infectious disease specialists in public health clinics throughout the greater-Boston area. At two particular clinics, healthcare professionals were providing treatment to dozens of patients, mostly men, diagnosed with HIV / AIDS. Most of these patients had little money and according to discussions with the clinic staff, they could not afford the necessary multiple-treatment regimens. Due to the high cost associated with some of these life-lengthening drugs, the medical staff relied on a limited quantity of free samples available through patient assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Recognizing the overwhelming need of the patients at these clinics, the situation led me to negotiate an unprecedented and unusual arrangement within my own company that allowed for an adequate supply of free samples.

Based on my proactive efforts to assist patients in need, the medical director of the clinic encouraged me to replicate this type of access-to-medicine work on a much larger, perhaps even global, scale. Although it would take some time, this important experience provided the platform for pursuing my graduate studies in global health.

Nearly twenty years later, as our sons began to explore college and university curriculum, I was encouraged to consider my own future. The timing to begin a new chapter seemed appropriate. As our sons embarked on a new path, I would too. My search for a graduate programme which would allow me to utilize decades of corporate experience in life sciences; broaden my knowledge about global health and humanitarian relief efforts; offer a flexible, online learning platform; and provide a degree from a distinguished, international university, led me to the online MSc in Global Health programme.

The rigorous course of study, interaction with fellow international students, support from tutors, direction and encouragement provided by my supervisor, combined with the intensive research required to complete my dissertation, further solidified my interest to follow a new pathway for this next chapter in my professional life. Accomplishing this degree, attending graduation ceremonies and walking to receive my degree allowed me to achieve a long-anticipated goal. I now look forward to utilizing this knowledge in a new role. I am actively seeking consulting contracts or a full-time, senior-management position with a humanitarian aid organization, university, government agency or corporation dedicated to addressing and solving global health issues.