McMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

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New Certificate Confronts Minority Health Issues


Collaborative project between A&S and CECH will use hands-on experiences to teach undergraduate students how to address health care disparities in minority populations nationwide.

Date: 4/25/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-8577

UC ingot   A collaborative effort between colleges at the University of Cincinnati will help train a new generation of public health advocates to smash cultural barriers preventing minority populations across the country from receiving critical care tailored to their unique needs.

Ed Wallace, assistant professor of Africana studies, is helping lead the charge. Wallace and Amy Bernard, associate professor of Health Promotion and Education, spearheaded the formation of the new Undergraduate Minority Health Certificate. The joint project from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services will train students to assess the health needs of minority and vulnerable populations such as African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders.

“If we’re able to train students and people in the community how to design, implement and evaluate health programs that address these disparities, then ultimately we’d like to take it a step further to impact health policy,” Wallace says. “We can then show politicians that we need to change laws and implement policies because clearly there’s an equity issue that is not being addressed.”
Assistant professor of Africana studies Ed Wallace helped create the new Undergraduate Minority Health Certificate.



Wallace said disparities exist in health care for a variety of ailments including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and asthma. In some cases, the inequity is severe. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health show that:

- African American men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as whites.

- Asian and Pacific Islander women are three times as likely to fall ill from stomach cancer as non-Latino white women.

- Native American men and women are twice as likely to develop and die from stomach cancer and liver cancer as non-Latino whites.

“We want to train our students to understand health disparities and how to design programs to address these health disparities,” Wallace says. “Ultimately that will help them become advocates for a population in order to influence and change health policy.”

One of the strengths of the certificate, which will be available starting fall semester, is its emphasis on hands-on experience. For example, “Community Health and Minorities: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” a required course for the certificate, is designed to take students off campus and into the community to interact and work with community members, schools, churches and politicians. Many employers look to hire graduates with practical, hands-on experience, and Wallace says the certificate gives students the applied type of research necessary for them to be successful professionals.

Wallace says public health professionals are also encouraged to take the certificate. It’s a great way for someone already in the field to gain additional training, new skills and unique insight into specific minority communities’ health concerns without pursuing a master’s degree or PhD. For the 18 credit-hour certificate, students must complete 12 hours of required courses and six hours from 23 available elective courses. As an added convenience, the certificate is a hybrid, meaning courses can be taken in a traditional classroom setting or an online format. All of the required courses are available online as are many of the electives, giving students the option of completing the entire certificate online.

Many students have already expressed interest in taking the certificate to Wallace, and he’s excited about the attention being given to the interdisciplinary nature of the Department of Africana Studies.

“Students are beginning to realize there are so many different things they can do with the Africana Studies degree,” Wallace says. “The fact that A&S and CECH were able to come together and share a vision is a positive for the university as a whole.”

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