MPH a Popular Option Among UNC Medical Students
According to the US News and World Report 2011 listing of the nation’s top public health schools, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health is ranked as the top public school, and number two overall. At UNC, between fifteen and twenty-five percent of each graduating class from the UNC School of Medicine will supplement their medical education with an MPH from UNC’s nationally renown program.
There are many reasons why this is such a popular option at UNC. “The MPH program offers medical students increased awareness of costs, evidence-based guidelines, public policy, and prevention measures that will impact students’ clinical careers, regardless of their specialty,” reports Sally Wood, one of the UNC medical students participating in the MPH program this year.
Staples of the MPH curriculum include classes on epidemiology, biostatistics, public policy, and critical appraisal of the medical literature. In addition to classes, each MPH candidate must produce a master’s paper, which requires extensive research into an issue that is picked by each individual student.
Wood is currently working on a study investigating what factors are contributing to the nation’s primary care shortage, paying particularly close attention to the relationship between medical student education and the shortage. As part of her study, she conducted a survey of all graduating fourth year students inquiring what specific considerations the students made in deciding a career. She is in the process of analyzing the collected data, which will reveal insight on how reimbursement policies, lifestyle considerations, and other factors relate to what careers medical students choose to pursue.
The MPH program also allows students to see how other physicians have incorporated knowledge gained in their public health training into their clinical practice. One example is Dr. Russ Harris, MD, MPH, who is a professor within the UNC Department of Medicine and also serves as the director of the Health Care & Prevention Concentration through the UNC School of Public Health. Dr. Harris is a professor and advisor to many in the MPH program, and has served on the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The combination of the strength of the MPH program at UNC with society’s increased attention to population based medicine ensures that there will continue to be many UNC medical students choosing to integrate the MPH into their training for the foreseeable future.
By Edward Jernigan