161451 Healthy aging topics for MPH courses

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Judith A. Sugar, PhD , School of Public Health, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV
Paula Valencia-Castro, BS , School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV
Susan G. Harris, MS, MA , School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV
Jaime L. Anstee, MA , School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV
Never before in history have there been as many elder adults as there are now. This phenomenon is a direct result of successful public health interventions implemented over the past century, and creates a demographic imperative to develop a public health workforce with basic gerontological competencies. Is Public Health working towards meeting this demand? In the current study, we reviewed MPH curricula of 38 accredited Schools of Public Health for aging content significant enough to be mentioned in course titles. Data available on websites was then verified or updated by contacting the schools. We found a paucity of courses related to aging, and most of these are electives. Moreover, we found that these courses typically link aging with disease and decline. Clearly, MPH curricula are not yet responding to the impending demographic pressures, and they are not looking at the new face of aging: vitality and strength. Experience in other disciplines has shown that offering gerontology electives is not enough to ensure that public health professionals will have the necessary knowledge for assuring conditions in which older adults can be healthy. We discuss issues to be considered when using the more successful approach of integrating aging into existing courses, and current topics from gerontology that focus on positive aspects of aging. We also offer specific suggestions for MPH core courses, with the goal of educating public health students the basic competencies to serve older adults now and in the future.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to: 1.) Recognize the urgent need for gerontological content in Masters of Public Health curricula. 2.) Assess the current status and nature of gerontological course content in MPH programs. 3.) Discuss various approaches to infusing gerontological course content into MPH programs.

Keywords: Aging, MPH Curricula

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.