Dr. Martin Schechter is director of the newly launched School of Population and Public Health - photo by Martin Dee
UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 8 | Aug. 7, 2008
New Degree Anticipates Healthcare Needs
By Catherine Loiacono
A unified interdisciplinary approach to solving population and public health issues is central to the new Master of Public Health (MPH) program offered this fall at UBC.
UBC is offering the MPH degree through the newly launched School of Population and Public Health.
“The MPH degree is a globally recognized professional credential for leadership in population and public health,” says Martin Schechter, a UBC professor in the Faculty of Medicine and director of the School of Population and Public Health. “By bringing together our outstanding UBC and Health Authority-based community health science professionals, academic researchers and learners, we will create one of the most advanced and integrated Schools of Population and Public Health in the world.”
The new school will develop public health leaders who are trained to work in local, regional, national and international settings. The MPH program fosters creative and critical thinking by incorporating analyses of complex systems, ethical debates and interdisciplinary perspectives. Students will have an opportunity to apply their learning through a comprehensive practicum experience in a community, laboratory or clinical setting.
“Career opportunities in this emerging field are numerous and rewarding,” says Schechter, who is also a Canada Research Chair in HIV/AIDS and Urban Population Health. “With an MPH degree, a graduate could pursue a career with the World Health Organization to eradicate polio, help design an HIV prevention program in Tanzania, help prepare Canadian cities for a potential pandemic or work with First Nations to help improve the overall health of their communities.”
Program studies include epidemiology, biostatistics, social, biological and environmental determinants of heath, population health, disease prevention, and health systems management. The program will also be accessible through a two-year distributed learning format, which will provide several on-campus days per semester supplemented by an on-line program.
“The B.C.-wide collaboration will also enable students and researchers in the School to engage with communities throughout the province,” says Schechter. “We envision the ability of students to undertake work experiences in all six Health Authorities, across the country and abroad, thus providing exposure to the complex health challenges facing our society and the world.”
Kathryn Berry, a prospective public health professional is considering pursing the UBC MPH. “The UBC MPH program offers a variety of elective courses that cover a range of subjects that I am interested in, namely health promotion, social determinants of health, and Aboriginal health,” says Berry. “I love the fact that students have the opportunity to essentially create their own degree from the wide variety of electives.”
“The program structure and course selection are relevant to the current issues in public health,” says Berry. “I like the fact that the School has designed a program that anticipates the future need of health care in Canada.”
The School of Population and Public Health, housed within the Faculty of Medicine, draws participation from seven faculties and two colleges at UBC.