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Promoting Practice in Public Health Academia: Assessing Impact on Student Education

Beck, Angela J. PhD, MPH; Sarigiannis, Amy N. MPH; Thomas, Dana MPH; Montgomery, JoLynn P. PhD, MPH; Boulton, Matthew L. MD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: May/June 2013 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 205–212
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182573a08
Original Articles

This article reviews the activities of an office of public health practice in a school of public health (SPH) and assesses their impact on master's of public health student training and education. The University of Michigan SPH established a Practice Office in 2005 to develop programs in community-based public health, workforce development, student training, and practice-based research. Student training objectives included increasing practice activity offerings and participation rates, ensuring participant satisfaction with activities, and raising the number of students seeking public health practice employment. According to student survey results from the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 academic years, the Practice Office achieved mixed success in meeting objectives. Approximately 50% of students participated in at least 1 activity, nearly 50% of students reported that the activities impacted their decision to pursue a practice career, and approximately 75% of students reported moderate to extensive public health practice experience on graduation, compared with 30% at the beginning of their degree program, although this change was not significantly different for those who had participated in Practice Office activities. Initiation of a systematic process to evaluate the impact of practice-based activities early in program development is recommended for all Practice Offices.

The authors review the activities of an office of public health practice in a school of public health and assesses their impact on master's of public health student training and education.

Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies, Department of Health Management and Policy (Dr Beck and Dr Boulton), Department of Epidemiology (Ms Sarigiannis and Dr Montgomery), Office of Public Health Practice (Ms Thomas), and Department of Health Management and Policy (Dr Boulton), University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor; and Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor (Dr Boulton). Departments of Health Management and Policy, and Internal Medicine, and Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor (Dr Boulton).

Correspondence: Angela J. Beck, PhD, MPH, Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies, Department of Health Management and Policy, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (ajbeck@umich.edu).

The authors thank Dr Phyllis Meadows, the current Associate Dean for Practice at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, for her continued support and guidance of Office of Public Health Practice programs.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.