June 12, 2017

Public health program enrollment soared above projections during inaugural year

Students interested in public health issues and acquiring the tools to assess and prevent health disparities have a major resource through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ public health program.

In late fall 2015, CLAS and the School of Medicine were given final approval to launch a new bachelor of science in public health, jointly sponsored by the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences (MPH). Faculty moved quickly to launch the new program, with the first undergraduate public health course offered in winter 2016. The undergraduate public health major and minor were opened to enrollment in June 2016.

Today — just over the one-year mark — there are more than 250 majors, far surpassing earlier enrollment projections of 50. According to Heather Dillaway, CLAS associate dean and public health program co-director, student interest has been incredible. “We are truly seeing exactly how much students have been craving a program like this. We have had to open more sections of required courses in order to accommodate student interest; this is a great problem to have.”

Dillaway attributes the high student interest to a number of factors. “Not only is this program relevant for pre-med students seeking early expertise in health-related fields, but it is also fulfilling students’ interests in urban health, health equity, global health and other interdisciplinary health topics.”

Kimberly Campbell-Voytal, a faculty member from the MPH program, also serves as co-director, helping Dillaway manage the undergraduate program.

The bachelor of science in public health program offers training in public health issues and policies to students interested in a broad range of health careers. Being committed to improving the health and vitality of Detroit, graduates of this major and minor will have the ability to assess and prevent health disparities across Detroit and beyond, as well as diagnose and research public health problems, improve public health through human and environmental interventions, promote individual well-being, and educate the public regarding healthful choices in life.

While anchored by a strong core public health curriculum, the public health major is one of the highly interdisciplinary majors on campus, allowing students to pull health-related electives from a variety of other disciplines related to their core interests. If a student is more interested in social science or natural science, for example, they can choose to complete public health electives in those fields. The interdisciplinary nature of public health electives gives students freedom to focus on the health-related topics that they like best.

“It has been a pleasure working closely with MPH folks in the School of Medicine to launch this program, and students are also gaining invaluable networks in being able to work closely with both MPH and CLAS faculty as they take their required courses,” Dillaway said. “They are learning from a variety of researchers and practitioners so that they are well versed in both traditional and applied worlds as they exit Wayne State and embark on their own.”

For more information about Wayne State’s undergraduate public health program, visit clas.wayne.edu/public-health

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