Professional degrees of public health

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The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) and the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) are interdisciplinary professional degrees awarded for studies in areas related to public health. The MPH degree focuses on public health practice, as opposed to research or teaching. Master of Public Health programs are available throughout the world in Schools of Public Health, Programs in Public Health, Medical Schools, and Schools of Public Affairs.

A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession, often, but not always, meeting the academic requirements for licensure or accreditation. Professional degrees may be either graduate or undergraduate entry, depending on the profession concerned and the country, and may be classified as bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees. For a variety of reasons, professional degrees may bear the name of a different level of qualification from their classification in qualifications frameworks, e.g. some UK professional degrees are named bachelor's but are at master's level, while some Australian and Canadian professional degrees have the name "doctor" but are classified as master's or bachelor's degrees.

Public health preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts and informed choices of society and individuals

Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals". Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organization, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Contents

General

A professional degree is one that, based on its learning objectives and types of positions its graduates pursue, prepares students with a broad mastery of the subject matter and methods necessary in a field of practice; it typically requires students to develop the capacity to organize, analyze, interpret and communicate knowledge in an applied manner. [1]

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including bachelor's, master’s and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees.

Master's degrees

In some countries the MPH program is only available for physician graduates (MBBS, MD, DO, or equivalent). In those countries, individuals without a medical degree may enter a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) or Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) programs.

Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, Canada and some other countries, the MD denotes a professional graduate degree awarded upon graduation from medical school. In the United States, this generally arose because many in 18th century medical profession trained in Scotland, which used the M.D. degree nomenclature. In England, however, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery was used and eventually in the 19th century became the standard in Scotland too. Thus, in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the MD is a research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree in medicine; in those countries, the equivalent professional to the North American and some others use of M.D is still typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).

Doctorate degrees

The DrPH degree is for those who intend to pursue or advance a professional practice career in public health and for leaders and future leaders in public health practice. They face the particular challenge of understanding and adapting scientific knowledge in order to achieve health gain and results. This degree leads to a career in high-level administration, teaching, or practice, where advanced analytical and conceptual capabilities are required. The usual requirement for entry into this program is a master's degree in Public Health (MPH). The DrPH program develops in its candidates all competencies included in MPH programs, with increased emphasis on high level skills in problem-solving and the application of public health concepts.

United States

In the United States, any person with an accredited undergraduate degree may pursue an MPH or MSPH and usually takes two-years of full-time work to complete. Based on the accreditation of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an MPH or MSPH is not a clinical degree. [2] However, some states in the United States recognize MPH holders as ancillary clinical professionals (and patient-facing clinical staff) especially with regard to preventive medicine, health education, and other functions in the clinical and hospital environments. In fact, most hospital systems have MPH public health staff to study disease trends and help to combat hospital-acquired infections (nosocomial infections) and immediately determine epidemiologic trends, for example, flu outbreak tendencies, etc. [3]

Hospital-acquired infection Nosocomial Infections

A hospital-acquired infection (HAI), also known as a nosocomial infection, is an infection that is acquired in a hospital or other health care facility. To emphasize both hospital and nonhospital settings, it is sometimes instead called a health care–associated infection. Such an infection can be acquired in hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation facility, outpatient clinic, or other clinical settings. Infection is spread to the susceptible patient in the clinical setting by various means. Health care staff can spread infection, in addition to contaminated equipment, bed linens, or air droplets. The infection can originate from the outside environment, another infected patient, staff that may be infected, or in some cases, the source of the infection cannot be determined. In some cases the microorganism originates from the patient's own skin microbiota, becoming opportunistic after surgery or other procedures that compromise the protective skin barrier. Though the patient may have contracted the infection from their own skin, the infection is still considered nosocomial since it develops in the health care setting.

Core disciplines

The traditional MPH degree is designed to expose candidates to five core discipline areas of public health: [4]

  1. Biostatistics
  2. Epidemiology
  3. Environmental Health
  4. Health Policy and Health Administration
  5. Social and behavioral sciences

Council on Education for Public Health

In the United States the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredits schools of public health and programs of public health through a formal review process. [5]

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs offered in settings other than schools of public health. These schools and programs prepare students for entry into careers in public health. The primary professional degree is the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) but other master's and doctoral degrees are offered as well such as the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH).

Certified in Public Health (CPH) Exam

CPH is the only public health board certification available in the United States for public health professionals. In 2008, the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE), United States-based credentialing board, began offering the certification exam (CPH) designed to test mastery of the core competencies of the public health professionals. [6]

Recertification requirements

After candidates pass the Continuing Education for CPH [7] examination, they must maintain the certification with 50 CPH recertification credits approved by the NBPHE. [8]

The NBPHE's Board of Directors primarily represents five key collaborating organizations: the American Public Health Association, the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, the Association of Schools of Public Health, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The board is dedicated to increasing recognition of the public health profession, raising the visibility of public health, and measuring and improving the competency of public health workers across the nation and around the world.

Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health

The Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health represents the accredited and emerging graduate programs across the United States that grant public health degrees and therefore prepare students for professional careers in public health. [9] The Council encourages, promotes and supports universities, schools and colleges in developing, maintaining, and advancing graduate programs in the disciplines of preventive medicine, social medicine, community health and public health. The Council is sponsored by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. [10]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the MPH or MSc in Public Health is usually a one-year full-time program. Taught modules typically account for two thirds of the MPH and a project one third. Students may be medical or non-medical graduates. Degrees vary in their content, but most cover similar areas of public health. Because of the key role played by public health practitioners in the NHS a UK MPH also often includes Health economics.

Degrees that include a substantial epidemiological component are more selective and some require applicants to demonstrate ability before applying, by completion of an online test MPH Selection Test [11]

Faculty of Public Health (UK)

In the UK specialist accreditation in public health is provided by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH). [12] Specialist accreditation is through participation in a four-year program analogous to specialist training for doctors. Specialist trainees must pass an examination, demonstrably achieve certain skills and submit a portfolio of work. However specialist training in public health is also open to non-doctors.

India

In India, the MPH degree course is a two-year Post graduate course or a post graduate diploma of one year (DPH), approved by the Medical council of India, which is open to candidates with a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university, with at least 50% marks. But preference is given to applicants having a bachelor's degree in any of the health related fields - Medical, dental, pharmacy, physiotherapy, nursing, AYUSH and paramedical sciences; veterinary sciences and from management; natural sciences (incl. biology); social sciences and social work; statistics; engineering; law; commerce or accounting, communication etc. In some institutions preference will be given to MBBS doctors. Relevant work experience in health or development sector will be an advantage but not mandatory. In India, job opportunites for MPH graduates with a medical degree is generally good, but for others (non medical MPH graduates) it is not clear. [13]

Specialization

The MPH degree in India is covers all major disciplines of public health including Environment and Health, Gender issues, Public Health Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health [14] but some institutes offer specialization such as Social epidemiology, [15] Health Policy, Health and Development, Health System Management, Economics or Finance. . [16]

Subjects

Topics covered during the course include Social Epidemiology including Chronic and Infectious disease Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, Gender Issues in Health, Health Policy Analysis and Health Administration, Social and behavioral sciences, Health System Management, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Health and Development, Health Economics, Public Health Nutrition, National Health Programs, Medical Anthropology, Research Methodology, Public Health Ethics and Law. [17]

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University of Washington School of Public Health

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Boston University School of Public Health

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