Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Public Health (BS)
The Health Education program was initially established at the UA in the 1950s in the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department. It moved to the College of Medicine in 1994 and moved into the College of Public Health in 2000. There were two parts to this program. First, the curriculum was based on the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHES). Upon graduation students were able to take an exam to be a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). A second part of the program was to allow graduates to work in school health programs. However, most school health programs and the State of Arizona allow physical education teachers to provide health education courses. We had a hard time finding an appropriate preceptor for our students. However, a moratorium on admissions was established in 2007 because our college had noticed that the program was too restrictive compared with the growing need within the public health workforce. At the same time we had lost faculty who were dedicated to this program. Thus, it was an opportune time for the moratorium and provided time to plan for a new major.
During the past 5 years, there has been an increased recognition to advance undergraduate education in the area of public health. This interest has developed from the growing acknowledgement that the issues being addressed by public health professionals are changing rapidly and the public itself does not understand or appreciate its role in society.(1-3) In response to these growing concerns, the Institute of Medicine, the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences and the Association of Schools of Public Health developed documents that set out a strategy to improve academic public health education for training professionals in public health.(4-6) In fact, the Institution of Medicine has recommended that “all undergraduates have access to undergraduate public health education.”(4) It is within the framework for public health education being developed on the national stage and the local and state needs to havtrained public health professionals that the MEZCOPH constituted a workforce to reconstruct its Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program. In response to this work we have planned a new major in Public Health which will replace its current health education major.
In addition to responding to the public health challenges for the 21st century, there are three additional reasons MEZCOPH developed this program. First, a MEZCOPH undergraduate education now provides a curriculum that will result in an educated citizenry regarding public health issues. It will also significantly contribute to solving the public health workforce shortage that is present in Arizona and the nation by having an undergraduate professional degree to prepare students for health careers in medicine, nursing, public health, or pharmacy.
The curriculum is based on the recommendations of the Association of Schools of Public Health taskforce on undergraduate education. It includes at a minimum instruction in three courses: epidemiology, global health and general public health principles. The new undergraduate program, Bachelor of Science with a Major in Public Health replaces the current major in the health education within the current Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences (BSHS) program. The major in Public Health is designed to allow students to gain a broad range of knowledge regarding the field of public health, to obtain a concentrated area of knowledge in one or two specific tracks and to obtain field experience for future employment.
Students can currently focus in one of two tracks within the major as they plan for the next step in their professional career. MEZCOPH will initially provide two tracks: (1) Environmental and Occupational Health and (2) Health Behaviors. Additional tracks developed in the future using CPH courses will be submitted and approved by the University Office of Academic Affairs before they are implemented. All of the tracks are designed to create an educated citizenry in the area of public health and will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to immediately enter the public health workforce following graduation. Each track will also prepare students for graduate/professional education in a variety of health careers and will prepare students for master level and doctoral level studies in related areas within MEZCOPH. A future track could be specifically developed to prepare students for graduate programs in medicine, pharmacy or nursing.
(1-3) 1. Fineberg HV, et al. Changing public health training needs: Professional education and the paradigm of public health. Annu Rev Public Health 1994, 15:237-57.
2. Gostin LO, et al. The future of the public’s health: vision, values, and strategies. Health Affairs 2004, 23(4):96-107.
3. General competencies and accreditation in graduate medical education. 2002, 21(5):103-111.
(4-6) 4. Rosenstock GK, et al. Who will keep the public healthy? Educating public health professionals for the 21st century. Washington, DC. National Academy Press, 2003.
5. Riegelman RK, et al. The educated citizen and public health: a consensus report on public health and undergraduate education. Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, October 2007.
6. ASPH Education Committee, the Undergraduate Public Health Education Taskforce. Statement on Recommended Content for an Introductory Undergraduate Public Health Course. http://www.asph.org/document.cfm?page=977.