SHP considering new public health program

Hume and Kuhnert hope to start the new public health program by fall 2015.

The School of Health Professions is considering a new undergraduate program in public health.

Deborah Hume and Mark Kuhnert, associate professors in the school, have sent out a needs assessment to students, possible employers and alumni to determine students’ interest in the program and demand for a public health degree in the job market.

“So far we have gotten a few hundred surveys back,” Kuhnert said, “and so far they have been very positive.”

The survey results will be used to create a proposal for the program, which will be presented to Dean Kristofer Hagglund in October with hopes of starting the program by fall 2015.

The information gained in the surveys is added to the proposal and a committee was made in order to help formulate the technicalities of the degree.

“(For) the proposal, we have to develop the curriculum and our budget, how (many) faculty and staff we will need and the operating expenses,” Kuhnert said. “We assembled a committee with our faculty and student services in order to develop curriculum.”

Hume said there are few options for studying public health in Missouri, but if MU were to launch a public health degree program and gain accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, it would expand choices for students.

“The only other undergraduate public health major in the state is in St. Louis,” Hume said. “(If MU launched the program), we would be the second in the state with this degree and the only public university.”

Students who graduate with a degree in public health would have a background in sociology, statistics, epidemiology and environmental science. Hume said an undergraduate degree in public health would allow graduates of the program to work in fields such as assessing water quality and working in school education programs to assess school nutrition.

MU currently offers a graduate degree in public health, so undergraduate students could continue their education through MU if they choose to study public health.

“We are looking at the graduate school to see what kind of (undergraduate) requirements they need,” Kuhnert said.

Public health degrees have been around for a long time to help prevent disease epidemics while helping the health of a community as a whole, Hume said.

“Public health looks at the health of the community as a whole (and) it is more about the prevention (of diseases),” Hume said. “I think that there are already a number of people (in the School of Health Science) who have a background in public health and students should make an appointment to talk to one of these people (if they are interested).”

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