240727 Strategies for student involvement in their local community in an online MPH program

Monday, October 31, 2011

Enid Sisskin, PhD , School of Allied Health and Life Sciences, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
Justice Mbizo, DrPH , School of Allied Health and Life Sciences, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
Angela Hahn, PhD , School of Allied Health and Life Sciences, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
Background: The importance of community involvement is one of the key lessons we should teach Master of Public Health graduates. Providing them a sense of community is particularly difficult for an online program, such as the MPH program at the University of West Florida, with students in about a dozen states and several countries. We accomplish this in several ways. Methods: Students are encouraged and assisted in forming their own community through the Student Association for Public Health where they can participate in community outreach events and projects as well as discuss with each other issues of interest and concern in public health. They hold scheduled meetings using online web conferencing software. They become involved in their local communities through community outreach projects and their internship, where they work with a local health department, non-profit or government agency or hospital on a public health problem. This gives them both public health experience and a sense of their local community's needs. Throughout the curriculum they are assigned projects that reflect the health and environmental problems in their own community. In the environmental health course, students research a local environmental issue, discuss the potential health consequences, how these were resolved/approached and devise/analyze other potential solutions. In the Introduction to Public Health class, students do a similar project involving a local public health issue. Implications for Community Involvement: When they graduate, MPH students at UWF will have worked together within their own community and with their local communities on significant public health issues.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the students' ability to interact with their local community on issues of public health importance.

Keywords: Education, Public Health Education and Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been teaching using this method for the last five years.
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.