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Rosann
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February 13, 2003

New Public Health Program Offered by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Interdisciplinary MPH degree prepares the individual for leadership in addressing health problems from a population & community perspective

(Philadelphia, PA) -- A Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree program is now offered through the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The degree-granting program expects to have its first graduate in 2004.

A well-established field, public health carries out its mission through organized efforts -- which cross various disciplines -- that address the physical, mental, and environmental health concerns of communities and populations at risk for disease and injury. Public health goals are achieved through the application of health-promotion and disease-prevention technologies and interventions designed to improve and enhance quality of life. Public health related educational, research and service programs have been ongoing in various parts of the University for some time. Penn's new MPH program recognizes the need to provide a focal point for these efforts to create synergy scholars and practitioners who are involved in or seek to become involved in public health activities.

"The development of this program is a natural outgrowth of the interest in public health shared by many faculty and students throughout the campus, and it will greatly increase the visibility of Penn's public health efforts, both on campus and externally," explains Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, director of the graduate program. "We want to enable students to embrace and achieve the public health paradigm as an essential component of their future endeavors in prevention, hygiene, education, and policy making. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Penn students and faculty have the maximum positive impact upon current and future public health problems," adds Kumanyika, who serves as Associate Dean for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention and is Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Medicine.

Though based in the School of Medicine, this interdisciplinary degree, encompasses course offerings from a number of the University's schools, including Nursing, Arts & Sciences, Social Work, Veterinary Medicine, Education, Business (Wharton), and Dental Medicine and will encompass course offerings from these and other Penn schools. Dr. Margaret Controneo, Associate Professor of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing in the School of Nursing and also Associate Professor of Nursing in Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, serves as MPH Program Co-Director and Chair of the curriculum committee. "The Masters in Public Health program is enriched by the diversity of intellectual talent of the Penn faculty from all areas of the University," explains Arthur M. Rubenstein, MBBch, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine.

The Penn public health curriculum, developed to meet national accreditation guidelines, focuses on the five basic core areas that define public health -- Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental/Occupational Health, Behavioral Sciences, and Health Care Policy and Management -- with electives and internships available consistent with the student's interests. The specialized classes in public health are accessible to Penn students campus-wide. Because public health study is complementary to a wide range of disciplines, there will be a particular emphasis on accessibility of the program to students in related fields -- via the joint degree program that will be offered in conjunction with other University of Pennsylvania graduate programs. Both the University-wide participation and the emphasis on joint degrees are unique features of Penn's MPH program. The combined MD/MPH dual degree -- a popular choice of medical students nationwide -- provides an opportunity for PENN medical students to engage in public health studies in a combined five-year, dual degree option. Dr. Marjorie Bowman, Chair of the Department of Family Practice and Community Medicine, also chairs the faculty advisory committee for the MD/MPH option.

More information about the Graduate Program in Public Health Studies, including descriptions of the new public health program courses developed to date, can be obtained via the Internet at http://www.publichealth.med.upenn.edu


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