240685 A strong curriculum and a sense of humor: Challenges and opportunities in coodinating a new MPH program

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amanda S. Birnbaum, PhD, MPH , Department of Health & Nutrition Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Creating new, competency-based master of public health (MPH) programs is an important strategy for meeting the growing need for a trained, diverse public health workforce. It is also an opportunity for passionate public health academics to develop strong, current curricula that can be crafted from the very beginning to develop core competencies and capitalize on new technologies and program delivery models. At the same time, making the program “come to life” and operate day-to-day presents new challenges along with opportunities. This presentation reflects on these challenges and opportunities from the faculty coordinator perspective, offering lessons learned and critical observations. Becoming MPH faculty coordinator in a new program brings a flood of new roles and responsibilities. In our experience, this individual became not only program ambassador for prospective and new students, but essentially ambassador of public health to other disciplines and departments and the larger community. This requires a breadth of focus across the core disciplines that pushes one beyond the traditional focus on one's own specialization. The faculty coordinator also serves as a bridge between constituencies, perhaps most notably between students and community partners. This involves understanding and calibrating the expectations of community partners for what the new program and its students can realistically contribute, on one hand, and students' skills and professional development on the other. As a primary contact point for students, the faculty coordinator also has the opportunity to get detailed program feedback and develop creative academic and practice-oriented solutions to students' needs and challenges.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify three ways that faculty coordinators of new MPH programs are called on to extend their practice beyond traditional areas of expertise. Describe how the role of MPH coordinator relates to the traditional faculty role and expectations. Discuss the role of the MPH coordinator in responding to students' and community partners' needs and concerns.

Keywords: Public Health Education, Community Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the graduate program coordinator for a new MPH program in Community Health Education, now in its second year of enrolling students.
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.