THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. School of Population and Public Health

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1 THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA School of Population and Public Health Rapidly putting new knowledge into practice and training future health practitioners and researchers are core elements of the mission of UBC's new School of Population and Public Health (SPPH). Launched May 1, 2008, the school focuses on six broad theme areas with the aim of translating findings on biological, psychological, social, occupational and environmental factors that influence health into improved health and quality of life for all. Housed within the Faculty of Medicine, SPPH draws faculty and participation from seven different Faculties and two Colleges. The resulting mix of professions and disciplines is seen as a means of connecting individuals and small research units to enhance learning, and galvanize the relationship between health research and health services. The school offers new graduate courses in areas ranging from public health to health care policy, with a focus on both local and global health challenges. SPPH also collaborates with the Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the University of Northern British Columbia, Simon Fraser University (SFU), the University of Victoria, and four other regional BC Health Authorities to create a Province-wide network. This BC-wide collaboration enables students and researchers in SPPH to engage with Health Authorities and communities throughout the Province, providing them with exposure to the range of complex health challenges facing British Columbia. Areas of emphasis in the school include: Social and Life Course Determinants of Health (Hertzman, Poon) Occupational and Environmental Health (Demers, Koehoorn) Health Care Services and Systems (Barer, Anis) Global Health and Vulnerable Populations (Spittal, Spiegel) Public Health, Emerging Threats and Rapid Response (Patrick, Buxton) Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Janssen, Singer) Core educational offerings within SPPH in Fall 2008 will include new undergraduate curriculum offered as cross-disciplinary Health and Society courses within Arts and Sciences, graduate MSc programs and PhD programs, and professional education at the master's level in Health Administration (MHA) and a new Master's of Public Health degree program. Plans are being developed for a MSc in Health Informatics, as well as a certificate program in Evaluation Studies in the academic year. September 10, 2008 Page 1 of 5

2 Existing Educational Programs SPPH offers several graduate degree programs as follows: Master of Health Administration (MHA) is an executive-style graduate program that integrates skills and ideas unique to health care administration with advanced business and management concepts. The program attracts strategic thinkers already employed in the health field who want to rise to the challenge of solving health delivery issues I an ever-more complicated health care sector. Students are from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds that enhances learning and networking opportunities. Graduates from this program have careers in management in hospitals or health care organizations, management in the Ministries or Regional Health Authorities, in the private sector (e.g. pharmaceutical, clinics, consulting firms) and not-for-profit sector (associations, NGOs). Master of Health Science (MHSc) is a professional degree open to physicians or equivalent. Having a Master s degree with emphasis on research skills is becoming the norm for academic departments in Faculties of Medicine across Canada. The MHSc is a program that enables health professionals to gain knowledge and skills in public and occupational health, clinical epidemiology and research methodology. The emphasis is on the application of rigorous methodology to the study of health issues in populations, spanning assessment, policy development and assurance. Course work is in a wide variety of topics: etiologic research; data base analysis; assessment of diagnostic tests; clinical trials; policy analysis; utilization studies; investigations of occupational and environmental health issues; determinants of health; population health; and health promotion. Graduates from the MHSc Program have academic appointments in Orthopedics, Cardiovascular Surgery, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Pediatrics, Pathology and Community Medicine. We also have graduates from this program working at the following organizations: International Red Cross, WHO, Public Health Agency of Canada, Medical Health Officers across Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control. Master of Science and Doctoral studies programs (MSc and PhD) are research oriented and enable students to gain core knowledge and skills in epidemiology and biostatistics methods and to develop research experience by applying these methodologies to a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. The MSc program generally requires a minimum of two years of full time study with the first eight months devoted primarily to course work. Students can pursue thesis research in a wide variety of topics related to the health of populations and the delivery of health services. The Royal College Community Medicine Residency is an accredited program by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada that establishes specialty training requirements, educational objectives, and certification examinations for Community Medicine. The program focuses on population health and strategies for improving health and well-being through health promotion, disease prevention and health September 10, 2008 Page 2 of 5

3 protection. The FRCPC in Community Medicine is the standard credential for Medical Officers of Health at the regional, provincial and national level. In addition, SPPH has primary responsibility for 24 weeks of the undergraduate medical school program DPAS course (Doctor/Dentist, Patient and Society), and is involved significantly in Phase VI: Back to Basics. New and Future Activities (as of September 2008) Master of Public Health (MPH) with two year practicum program, produces public health professionals with integrated knowledge and skills in epidemiology, biostatistics, social, biological and environmental determinants of heath, population health, disease prevention and health systems management. Globally, the MPH degree is the most widely recognized professional credential for leadership in population and public health. Beginning September 2009 the degree will also be offered as a two-year distributed learning program in which students will attend course on campus for four consecutive days per month and also supplement their learning through a complementary on-line program. Streams within the MPH will follow the fundamental themes of the School and will be offered in partnership with key stakeholders. As planned, 16 students began the MPH in September 2008 although more than 70 applied despite little marketing. The plan is to admit 26 and 36 students in 2009 and 2010 respectively and then 36 students annually thereafter. The MPH Coordinators from UBC and SFU have met and are working towards sharing courses and coordinating both placement programs. Joint Biostatistics Program with the Department of Statistics (Faculty of Science) The School of Population and Public Health in collaboration with the Department of Statistics will offer a joint Masters program in Biostatistics. Students may enter the program from either the Department of Statistics or the School with slight differences in the program requirements. Historically, many of the graduates of the Statistics Department have become statistical staff for faculty in the School of Population and Public Health but lacked relevant training in epidemiology. Similarly, there have been graduate students in the School of Population and Public Health who wanted more rigorous training in qualitative methods, and this offers them the opportunity to do so. Many students with a mathematical inclination may not even be aware of the exciting opportunities available in the health field, and both departments are hoping that the presence of this program will attract talented students to the field. September 10, 2008 Page 3 of 5

4 Joint Program with the School of Nursing (Faculty of Applied Science) Discussions have begun with various public health nursing faculty in the School of Nursing (an initiative led by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc from the SON) around the potential for eventually developing a joint MPH/MSN degree program between the School of Population and Public Health and the School of Nursing. There is mutual interest in the possibilities and support for moving forward from both Schools, and Dr. Patti Janssen from SPPH and Dr. Saewyc have begun looking at practical ways of taking steps toward this, through sharing curricula and exploring the potential for cross-listing courses, identifying practicum and research opportunities for students in either program, and discussing ways of fostering affiliate membership for professors with relevant interests in each School. There is already a great deal of research collaboration and affiliate membership between the two Schools; as well, 2 of the 14 national CIHR/PHAC Chairs in Applied Public Health reside at UBC, one in SPPH (Jean Shoveller), one in the School of Nursing (Elizabeth Saewyc), and both are focused on aspects of youth health. Joint Program in Maternal Child Health (with Departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Provincial Health Services Authority) Children and youth represent an important area of focus for a SPPH. There are unique public health challenges related to understanding and supporting the health and development of children within our society. Maternal Child Health is a globally recognized theme within Schools of Public Health. The Provincial Health Services Authority, B.C. Children s Hospital and the Child and Family Research Institute have a collective level of authority and financial and faculty resources focused on child and youth health and health care and have come forward to be a key partner in the evolution of the School of Population and Public Health. Discussions are now underway involving Drs. Armstrong, MacLeod, Liston, Money, Barr, Whynot and Janssen about the Maternal Child Health program. An initial proposal focusing on children is being expanded to include maternal and child health. BC Training Initiative in Translational Public Health Sciences (with SFU, BCCDC and Genome Science Centre). The Burroughs Wellcome Fund in the US has launched a Competition entitled Institutional Program Unifying Population and Laboratory Based Sciences. Together, with our partners, we have applied as the British Columbia (BC) Training Initiative in Translational Public Health Sciences. This brings together leaders in biomedical sciences and population health sciences in an unprecedented regional collaboration involving two universities and two research institutes. The University of British Columbia s Faculty of Medicine (UBC/FM) and School of Population and Public Health, Simon Fraser University s Faculty of Health Sciences (SFU/FHS), the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Michael Smith Genomics Science Centre (GSC) are coapplicants on a joint application to this competition. We have just learned we are September 10, 2008 Page 4 of 5

5 among 15 finalists from a total of 104 original letters of intent. However, only 4 or 5 will be funded. Centre for Populomics and Health Modeling (with Vancouver Coastal, PHSA) A multidisciplinary group is preparing a CfI application to establish first Centre for Populomics and Health Modeling (CPHM). The mission of the Centre is to improve the health of individuals and populations through pioneering research on mathematical and computer models of health, disease, and health care systems. The research program that will span three major themes: 1) infectious disease control; 2) chronic disease prevention; and 3) health care evaluation. These research endeavours are cemented by the application of mathematical modeling and computer simulation technology. The Centre s infrastructure will be used to develop and validate novel computer models, capturing the relationships between health determinants, diseases, interventions, services, outcomes, and costs of care. The development of such models represents a significant improvement in our ability to synthesize quantitative population health knowledge, test new theories about trends in disease frequency, and quantify the future burden of common conditions. The Center s investigators will integrate disease-specific models into a multi-disease computer model of British Columbia, and later extend it to other jurisdictions. This virtual population will be used to gain new insights into the complex disease processes and the functioning of health care systems at the population level. The UBC internal review rated the CPHM application highly and it was approved to move forward for submission to Ottawa. Matching funds have been secured for renovation of 5,000 sq. feet and high-throughput computing equipment. Entry for Aboriginal People Training in population and public health for aboriginal people is an essential prerequisite for self-government and for transfer of responsibility for health. A group from the SPPH has worked over the past year with FoGS to make admission criteria more flexible and accommodating of historical disadvantages faced by Aboriginal people. The SPPH group proposed that the GRE be waived and that flexibility be allowed surrounding the traditional requirement of a baccalaureate degree. This was not only approved for the MPH degree but it is our understanding that it is being adopted on a UBC-wide basis. Next Priorities Governance Structures (divisions vs. themes) Global Health Mental Health and Addictions Environmental Health Officer training September 10, 2008 Page 5 of 5

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