MPH Department Information

 INTRODUCTION TO OUR PROGRAM

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The Master of Public Health Program is a nationally accredited degree program that provides graduate public health professional training in:

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodologies
  • Quality, Management, & Outcomes in Health Systems
  • Health Policy, Law & Ethics
  • Translational and Community-engagement Strategies

The program focuses on the competencies professionals need to improve the health of individuals and populations. The individualized and interdisciplinary curriculum includes courses in the five core areas of public health and a wide range of interdisciplinary courses.

Students complete a minimum of 42 credit hours of course work: core courses, courses in a chosen concentration, an applied practice experience in a community health setting, and an integrated learning  experience project. The following dual degree options are available: MD-MPH, JD-MPH, MBA-MPH and MPP-MPH. Graduates are prepared for a variety of positions in health care and research, community health, and health policy.

There are two areas of concentration within the program:

  • Health Policy, Law, and Ethics
  • Research in Practice

The MPH program generally requires two academic years of coursework and fieldwork. Each student works with an MPH faculty advisor to identify a concentration and develop a plan of study and timeline tailored to the student’s professional interests, needs, and goals. In some cases, other timelines may apply, for example:

UVA faculty, physicians, and staff who would like to pursue an MPH degree can petition for special part-time status or a special full-time 1-year plan of study comprised of a fall/spring/summer curriculum.

Dual-degree students (MD-MPH, JD-MPH, MBA-MPH, MPP-MPH) generally enroll full-time in the MPH Program for 2 semesters and complete their MPH courses during matriculation in their other programs.

Students with professional experience and/or other advanced degrees* can petition for approval to complete the MPH program with an accelerated timeline that includes coursework in summers and January terms, when available. (*This may also apply to students who will begin other professional degree programs at the completion of their MPH degree.)

Recent college graduates and others with little relevant professional experience are strongly encouraged to register for two full academic years (4 semesters).

 

  MPH PROGRAM HISTORY

 The MPH at the University of Virginia was approved in the spring of 2003 and is structured as a terminal degree offered individually or jointly with other professional degrees. Created as an interdisciplinary program, it draws upon the strengths of UVA faculty within the the Schools of Medicine, Arts & Sciences, Nursing, Law, Business, Education, and Architecture as well as the larger university community.

Evolution of the MPH Program:

1999-2001
Public Health Faculty Working Group
: Multidisciplinary faculty interest group sponsored by the UVa’s Institute for Practical Ethics meets to explore public health ethics, law, and policy, and goals for a potential public health program. Outcomes: Developed new public health courses; secured grant in collaboration with faculty from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health from Greenwall Foundation to study ethics and public health policy, which resulted in peer-reviewed journal article

Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Consultation: Vice President for Research office funds visit by Pat Evans, CEPH Executive Director, in December 2001, to explore requirements of an MPH program (organized by the Institute for Practical Ethics Public Health Working Group)

2002
Public Health Strategic Planning Committee
: Dean, School of Medicine (SOM) establishes Public Health Strategic Planning Committee that recommends an MPH degree be developed within the SOM Department of Health Evaluation Sciences and discusses draft mission and goals statement

MPH University-wide Faculty Advisory Committee supports MPH degree program development

Public Health Strategic Planning Committee (subcommittee): Prepares proposals, including mission and goals, to University of Virginia and State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for approval of new MPH degree program

2003
University of Virginia Board of Visitors
approves establishment of new MPH degree, January 2003

State Council for Higher Education for Virginia approves MPH degree, April 14, 2003

2004
Department of Health Evaluation Sciences (DHES) Chair
appoints part-time MPH director, funded by the SOM Dean. (June 2004)

Public Health Strategic Planning Committee recommends that the MPH program begin the application process for MPH degree accreditation by CEPH

2005
DHES Chair and MPH Director
establish new MPH Faculty Advisory Committee, MPH Curriculum Committee, MPH Admissions Committee, MPH External Advisory Committee (January 2005)

Department Name Change: Chair and faculty of DHES, in consultation with the SOM Dean, change the department name to the Department of Public Health Sciences (DPHS), with subsequent approval by the Vice-President and Provost and UVa Board of Visitors

New Division of Public Health Policy and Practice and Division Director: The DPHS Chair, in consultation with the SOM Dean, establishes a new Division of Public Health Policy and Practice and appoints a full-time Division Director – by increasing the part-time MPH director position to a new full-time associate professor faculty position funded by SOM Dean- who directs the division and oversees the academic and accreditation aspects of the MPH program. (April 2005)

CEPH Accreditation Self-Study: The MPH Faculty Advisory Committee completes a program self-study, which includes a new statement of mission, goals, and objectives, and submits first report to CEPH on August 12, 2005.

2006
CEPH Accreditation: The MPH Program is fully accredited by CEPH through June 2009.

2008
CEPH Accreditation: The MPH Program accreditation is extended by CEPH through June 2011.

2011
CEPH Accreditation: The MPH Program accreditation is extended by CEPH through June 2018.*

 

MISSION, GOALS, AND VALUES

Mission Statement:

The mission of the University of Virginia’s Master of Public Health Program is to provide an interdisciplinary academic environment where students develop comprehensive public health knowledge, skills, and professional values; where students identify and pursue individualized educational and professional goals in research and practice; and where faculty and students collaborate with community partners on public health research and serve the community through public health interventions.

 

Program Goals:

To create an interdisciplinary, academic setting where students explore a wide range of perspectives on public health and work with faculty members with diverse interests, expertise, and professional backgrounds.

To provide students with a rigorous public health education and ensure that they attain knowledge and competencies in the core disciplines of public health.

To foster the identification and realization of individual public health competencies related to each student’s unique personal and professional goals.

To offer a variety of public health opportunities to students through coursework in their specialty track, field placements, and culminating experiences that will prepare them for roles in the public health workforce.

To work continually to improve the health of populations by providing service and consultation to public health agencies and organizations at the local, state, national and international level.

To provide an academic environment that encourages and enables faculty, students and collaborating public health organizations to conduct research at the forefront of the dynamic fields of public health science and practice.

To establish and maintain thorough systematic program evaluation and development.

Program Values:

Value 1: Excellence in Instruction, Research, and Service

Develop and realize a public health education program that offers instruction of the highest quality, emphasizing learning, research, and practical application of knowledge. Offer a program that directly benefits students, the University, and the local community, and promotes national and international public health.

Value 2: Health Equity through Community Collaboration and Advocacy

Promote the highest level of health for all people and the belief in health as a public good and fundamental right. Focus on community-centered collaborations targeting avoidable inequalities and disparities, especially for those who have experienced injustices. Generate and disseminate information to increase awareness and empower communities.

Value 3: Cultural Humility

Promote and celebrate diversity as a strength and an enrichment of the learning environment, and as a central tenet which informs community and professional engagement by students, faculty, and staff of the Program. Empower students and faculty with the necessary skill sets designed to explore the existence of differences. Appreciate the influence of bias, assumptions, and expectations in public health research and service.

Value 4: Professional Integrity and Stewardship

Emphasize the importance of integrity and stewardship exemplified by responsible resource management. Aid professionals in making decisions based on ethical and respectful promotion of public health. Promote the highest standards of accountability, transparency and respectful practices in the tradition of the institutional setting of UVa to foster an environment of trust and integrity. Please click here for information regarding the UVa honor system.

Value 5: Teamwork, Collaboration, and Cooperation

Encourage the tenets of collaborative work ethics found within the public health fields. Stress the value of mutual support, networking, and consensus building, and the importance of active, meaningful and sustained participatory approaches to enhance instruction, research, and service.

Value 6: Continuous Quality Improvement

Ensure that Program objectives are meaningful to the practice of public health and capable of being evaluated by qualitative or quantitative measurement to facilitate continuous Program analyses and improvement.

 

MPH COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

A goal of the MPH program is to support public health projects that serve the community through public health interventions. Faculty and students in the MPH Program recognize the value of strong relationships with community health organizations and with community-based public health professionals.

MPH students are strongly encouraged to participate in community service projects either through an organized activity with the MPH Program or on an individual basis; to demonstrate commitment to public health’s core value of serving those in need; gain experience working with community-based organizations; and, apply public health skills and knowledge.

The Student Service and Social Organization coordinates student service efforts. This organization meets monthly, conducts student led MPH Program service opportunities; serves as a clearinghouse for additional service opportunities; and provides events for students to interact socially outside of the classroom.

MPH faculty also participate in service to the public health community. Existing service projects include providing consultation and expertise to public and private community health organizations and serving in leadership positions in public health professional organizations and community organizations.

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP)

A number of faculty and students participated in the community health needs assessment project under the leadership of the local health department and Dr. Lilian Peake, District Health Director, Thomas Jefferson Health District, an adjunct professor in the division. The comprehensive study was done under the auspices of Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP), a tool developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Please see the MAPP page for a full report or click here for pictures and audio from Medical Center Hour.

MPH PROGRAM COMPETENCIES

The UVa MPH program has adopted the following core competencies:

Core Discipline competencies in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy and Management, Social and Behavioral Science, from the Association of Schools of Public Health Core Competency Development Project Version 2.3. Cross-Cutting competencies focus in the areas of Diversity and Culture and Professionalism.

Cross-Cutting Competencies

  1. Translate research data into community programs and/or policy options that support individual and population health improvement.
  2. Demonstrate effective written and oral skills for communicating with different stakeholders in the context of professional health activities.
  3. Describe the roles of history, power, privilege, and structural inequality in producing health disparities.
  4. Explain how professional ethics and practices relate to equity and accountability in diverse community settings.
  5. Develop public health strategies responsive to the diverse cultural values and traditions of the communities being served.
  6. Apply social justice and human rights principles when addressing community needs.
  7. Apply basic principles of ethical analysis (e.g., the Public Health Code of Ethics, other moral frameworks) to issues of public health practice and policy

 

WORKFORCE

The UVa MPH Program is committed to working with public health professionals in practice to identify and address the continuing educational needs of the public health workforce and of community health organization employees. Consistent with its mission for individualized education, the Program has focused on providing professional development for the workforce that is tailored to small groups of health professionals. The collaboration with local community health agencies on workforce development is an integral part of the close relationship the MPH program has with community partners, through which it identifies not only the specific training sessions that are needed but also opportunities for on-going long-term training consultation that often takes place on-site in health organizations. The emphasis is on small, individualized educational programs that address the needs of individual employees and particular community agencies.

The MPH Continuing Education Committee meets regularly, often by teleconference, to plan, conduct and review the educational needs of the workforce. The committee is comprised of the MPH Program Director, faculty, students, a staff member of the UVa SOM Continuing Medical Education Office; and the director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity in the VDH. Its goal is to provide workforce development animated by the MPH Program’s mission, which emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to public health interventions and collaboration with community partners.

The committee played a major role in helping to develop the Commonwealth Public Health Training Center, which brings together MPH programs from across Virginia and other health organizations, in a major new workforce development initiative in the Commonwealth of Virginia that is funded for five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The Commonwealth Public Health Training Center (PHTC) grant will provide significant new funding to the UVa MPH Program to conduct training for the public health workforce in the local region, as well as to collaborate as part of a new state-wide network of public health professionals in creating Certificate Programs and state-wide training conferences for the workforce.

 

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Webinars

The University of Virginia Master of Public Health Program and the Virginia Department of Health, in conjunction with the Virginia Public Health Association, are offering a series of webinars on public health practice, focusing on health equity. Please click here for more information.

Workforce Education Initiative

The MPH Public Health Workforce Initiative was created in 2008 to provide training for the public health workforce on topics identified by local health agencies. Initial training focused on the collection, management and use of public health data in their jobs in order to improve the health of those they serve. Trainings are comprised of a series of 5 to 7 sessions, each lasting for 3 hours. The initiative has included training in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and Structured Query Language (SQL). Also offered are training in other Microsoft Office software, particularly Word and PowerPoint. These trainings are conducted in state-of-the-art lab facilities, which allow each person in attendance to work at a computer and bring an actual challenge from their work to class for discussion. The instructors for these trainings have several years of experience in both teaching the use of the software and in public health.

The MPH Program has a commitment to working with the state and local public health workforce to provide educational opportunities to support the professional development of the public health workforce. The Program’s workforce partners consistently rate the programs very highly and the Program has committed to continuing these offerings in the future. In the current academic year, 2010 – 2011, the next sessions of the MPH Public Health Workforce Education Initiative are being scheduled. All MPH courses are open to members of the workforce.