A New Approach to Global Inter-Disciplinary Public Health Education



Purpose: Health professionals are the basis of a health system, and a health professional educational system is a key building block. The Lancet Commission on the Education of Health Professionals noted a mismatch between health care systems and health educational systems. Challenges include health inequities, globalization, population aging and climate change. What should be the structure of an MPH program geared to produce future public health leaders? Methods: A series of consultations were held with stakeholders both within and without Western University. Core principles for the new program included cased based learning, being competency driven, interdisciplinary, and team based. Students take 49 credit hours in Fall and Winter semesters and a 12 week practicum in Summer. A team based approach is fostered through ‘Learning Team�™ activities and sessions. Results: The inaugural class graduated in Fall 2013; 90% were employed six months after graduation. More than 60% of the curriculum is delivered using cases; the culminating experience is a teaching case and teaching note. Curricular innovations include three day-long Integrative Workshops, where student teams tackle a current public health problem, with the aim of synthesizing and integrating their didactic knowledge. Student and employer feedback has been uniformly positive, and we are in the process of getting CEPH accreditation. Conclusion: We have designed an innovative case based MPH program, but evaluation is a challenge. Case based teaching has great potential in training public health professionals, but we need to expand the pool of public health cases.


Gerald McKinley

Western University

Dr. McKinley is a Medical Anthropologist based in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University. Dr. McKinley is teaching faculty in the Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health. Dr. McKinley completed his post-Doctoral training in the Social Aetiology of Mental Illness Training Program housed in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Utilizing community based and ethnographic research methodologies he specializes in the social determinants of Indigenous mental health in Ontario, Canada. As a CAN BIND researcher, Dr. McKinley is working to tackle youth suicide among First Nations populations in Ontario. This research focuses on the interaction of social and biological factors contributing the development of depression, self-harm, substance abuse and suicide in First Nations youth.