Book on Undergraduate Public Health Education Features Articles by ETSU Faculty

Frontiers in Public Health

Three of the 19 articles featured in a recent eBook on undergraduate education in public health are authored by faculty at East Tennessee State University.  The book, entitled Undergraduate Education for Public Health in the United States , has just been released by Frontiers.

In the book’s editorial, ETSU is recognized as “one of the oldest undergraduate public health programs in the US,” and, the editorial notes, “it places particular emphasis on aligning the curriculum with the needs of the local workforce.”  

The opening article, “A history of undergraduate education for public health: from behind the scenes to center stage” follows trends education for public health.  The article, co-written by Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the College of Public Health, begins with the Welch-Rose report of 1915 which defined public health education as primarily professionally-focused graduate education and observes the transition to a concentrated growth in education for public health at the undergraduate level.  It notes the establishment of the National Environmental Health Science & Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC) in 1967 and acknowledges ETSU’s undergraduate environmental health program as the first EHAC accredited undergraduate program in the nation. 

Dr. Mike Stoots, Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dr. Amal Khoury and Dr. Rob Pack contributed an article titled “An undergraduate curriculum in public health benchmarked to the needs of the workforce.”  This article identified four over-arching themes that emerged during the restructuring of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) curriculum at ETSU.  These themes included:

  • Employers seek graduates who are knowledgeable in their field, but who also possess cross-cutting skills related to professional and ethical behavior;
  • Employers value graduates who have very strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Employers expect graduates to have expanded technological capabilities, particularly with Microsoft applications (e.g., Excel) and electronic health records; and
  • Students want more exposure to working professionals in the field, prior to their internship. 

In the third ETSU-authored article in the eBook, “Undergraduate training in public health should prepare graduates for the workforce,” Drs. Wykoff, Khoury, Stoots, and Pack examined data from the public health programs at ETSU and determined, while recognizing a minority of students do enter graduate school upon graduation, the vast majority of undergraduate public health graduates enter the workforce.  They drew three conclusions about undergraduate public health education:

  • Undergraduate degree programs in public health should be designed, delivered, modified, and evaluated primarily with the understanding that they are preparing students for the workforce.
  • Undergraduate programs in public health should be carefully and regularly benchmarked against the needs of local employers.
  • Institutions offering undergraduate degrees in public health also have an obligation to assure there is a job market for their graduates.

Frontiers is one of the world's largest open-access publishers in the health field.   The purpose of this compilation is to describe current curricular approaches to undergraduate education for public health and to facilitate analysis and discussion of what makes quality education and builds a competent workforce.  The complete E-book is available to download free of charge.

 

In the book’s editorial, ETSU is recognized as “one of the oldest undergraduate public health programs in the US,” and, the editorial notes, “it places particular emphasis on aligning the curriculum with the needs of the local workforce.”  

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