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MPH Program Flourishes, Hopes to Expand Collaborations and Recognition

With new director Jun Ying, PhD, in the driver's seat, the program continues to grow with hopes of expanding collaborations and gaining recognition locally and beyond.

Date: 6/22/2015 10:00:00 AM
By: Katie Pence
Phone: 558-6052
The field of public health is and remains essential for protecting and improving the health of communities locally and globally, which is why it's so important to have experts trained to handle impactful public health issues.

The University of Cincinnati (UC) Master's of Public Health Program has been a graduate degree option since 2007 and has gained momentum since its move to the Department of Environmental Health in 2011. 

Now offering six concentrations, the program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and has joined the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. 

With new director Jun Ying, PhD, in the driver's seat, the program continues to grow with hopes of expanding collaborations and gaining recognition locally and beyond. 

"We have been very active in recruiting in the past year and now project to reach 90 to 95 students in the coming fall, a significant leap from our current 68 students," says Ying, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health, adding that the program is now listed on SOPHAs, the Centralized Application Service for Public Health, which has helped increase its visibility. 

"We're the only MPH Program in the Tristate area, and it is our goal to serve as an academic and training center and to provide professional health practitioners for many health organizations in the region."

Concentrations include biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, occupational health, health services and management and health education and promotion.

"We have incredible strength within our current focus areas because of our excellent faculty—both in MPH and the Department of Environmental Health—and because of our internal and external collaborations," he says, adding that community partners include the Health Departments of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and North Kentucky, the Center for Closing the Health Gap, Cincinnati Crossroads, Cradle Cincinnati and others. 

With a major presence in Cincinnati by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, students and residents have opportunities for rotations before and jobs after graduation.

"We also partner closely with other departments within the College of Medicine and the other Academic Health Center colleges as well as with colleagues at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center," Ying adds. "However, we're trying to create closer ties to colleagues on the main UC campus.

"We're always looking for new partners who share an interest in public health and can help further our missions."

Ying says along with new collaborations, he's also hoping to offer combined MPH degree offerings for MDs and PharmDs.

"We currently have students with dual UC admission and are expecting two fellows from UC to join the MPH program in the fall, but we hope to expand our options in the future to give our students more opportunities," he says. 

"We're very proud of our students and with the growth of our program, but we really want to become better acquainted with others at the university and within the community. We hope to further enhance our program and to create positive and beneficial experiences for our students."

Enhancing Experiences for Current Students

In order to engage students and to give them experiences in presenting and discussing research, a Mini Public Health Conference was held in April. During the all-day event, over 28 students presented their practicum, capstone and thesis projects and presented their projects to their peers, faculty, community partners and even future students and their parents.

"It was a way for students to connect and to learn about each other's work," Ying says. "It also allowed first year students to catch a glimpse into what they'll be doing in the near future. We look forward to making this a yearly event."

Students also participated in Public Health Week, an event hosted by the program and featuring relevant talks from local public health officials, as well as the College of Medicine's Research Week 2015 and the Ohio Combined Public Health Conference, both held in May. Student Kelley Adcock won the award for Public Health Practitioner's Choice at the conference.