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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Texas A&M: New Integrated Public Health Core Program Diversifies Education

Some 24 schools have now launched an integrated core curriculum. The Texas A&M School of Public Health core program is not only part of that vanguard, but is also one of a handful of schools to have developed and delivered a fully integrated master of public health (MPH) core curriculum. Traditionally, schools offered siloed core courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, environmental health and social and behavioral health. Often, students would take the course in their concentration right away, leaving the other foundational courses till the end of the two-year MPH degree.

Texas A&M’s revised four-course sequence begins with an intensive two-week course prior to the start of the traditional semester:  “Thinking in Populations”. This course sets the stage for the kinds of questions and approaches that are central to public health framing and analysis of health challenges that cannot be resolved one patient at a time.

With this as backdrop, students spend the first half of the fall semester tracking and responding to a simulated acute outbreak. In the second half of the fall semester, students help to generate and synthesize evidence to inform an unfolding policy drama involving a wicked chronic disease problem — that is, a complex problem with multiple determinants requiring diverse but contested solutions.

The new integrated program changes the way master’s students think. They focus on populations at the outset while also solving real problems. Dr. Rick Danko, one of the creators and the MPH core director, explained, “We are teaching students how to figure things out — not just how to select the right answer on a test.”