238857 Public health in action: A photo assignment to attract undergraduates to public health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Valerie Yontz, RN, MSN, MPH, PhD , Public Health, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH , University of Hawaii, and Papa Ola Lokahi, Honolulu, HI
Some public health programs have added assignments that successfully link to the “This is Public Health” sticker campaign. We extended the assignment to “Public Health in Action” to challenge students to move beyond stickers and to capture the active side of public health through photos. Students are given 6 weeks to submit 5+ photos with captions, inserting stickers into the photos as appropriate. A few students do not understand how to move beyond the stationary, submitting photos of trash bins and warning signs. However, most present action photos, e.g., of people riding bicycles, buckling seatbelts, buying vegetables, applying sunscreen, getting vaccinated, walking in a designated crosswalk, breastfeeding, and so forth. Following PhotoVoice methodology, students explain their photos, which prompts discussion around the tasks, roles, and practices of public health. We use this assignment in a mandatory introductory course for MPH students that also attracts undergraduate students who want to learn more about public health and/or are considering public health as a field of study. During the discussion and in course evaluations, students speak to the value and impact of the assignment in: 1) increasing their ability to answer the question “what is public health;” 2) deciding or confirming that public health fits their career goals; 3) broadening their awareness of practicum and post-graduation options. Other public health programs may want to consider this assignment in classes designed to introduce public health and attract undergraduate students to choose public health as a field of study.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe how to use a photo-based assignment to attract undergraduates to public health and to enhance understanding of public health tasks and roles.

Keywords: Education, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 30 years experience in public health, 7 of which are as a professor of public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.