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February 2017 - Volume 13 - Issue 8

Nova Introduces New Bachelor of Science With a Major in Public Health

The Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (COM) Master of Public Health Program recently announced the launch of a new academic curriculum for a Bachelor of Science with a major in Public Health (BSPH), with an option for an accelerated seven-year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (BSPH- DO) degree program. 

According to Kristi Messer, MPH, MSW, Director of the BSPH, this program was developed to respond to the nationally recognized need to create a public health workforce that is competently trained to respond to the changing landscape of healthcare, recent global public health issues such as Zika and Ebola, chronic disease management, health promotion and disease prevention, and social and environmental determinants of health, among others.
“Today’s students have an enhanced global perspective of public health given that they grew up in the backdrop of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and a myriad of other local and global disasters,” says Messer. “This exposure to natural and man-made disasters, coupled with additional macro-level changes such as an aging population, increase in chronic diseases, and transformations in the health care system, have reinforced the demands of creating a competently-trained public health workforce, as well as providing a core public health foundation for future physicians.”
Public health’s interprofessional nature is ideally suited for an undergraduate degree as a precursor to medical school as it provides students an opportunity to apply core public health concepts to clinical practice, research, and program development.
The BSPH aims to contribute to the projected need, according to the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health, of an additional 250,000 public health professionals in the workforce. The accelerated option represents the first academic program in the nation to offer a seven-year Bachelor of Science in Public Health/ Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. This accelerated program is unique in that the curriculum satisfies all of the pre-medical prerequisites alongside a strong foundation of health sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, public policy, environmental health, and community health.
The academic rigor, emphasis on science, and core public health foundation of NSU’s BSPH will fully prepare students for a career in public health and/or medicine. The instructional delivery method of the BSPH is an onsite, day-time model, with opportunities to participate in global medical outreach initiatives and community-based public health field placements.
“BSPH students will have the opportunity to travel internationally alongside NSU medical school faculty and students to actively address public health needs in developing countries as well as in underserved areas,” adds Messer. “Community-based public health practicum placements will strengthen students’ understanding of domestic public health as students engage in developing, implementing and evaluating actual public health programs. These local and global service-learning experiences offer critical opportunities to reinforce leadership, problem-solving, and critical thinking in real-world settings.”
The BSPH course of study was developed to expand each student’s breadth of understanding public health through opportunities to engage in tangible public health issues. The first three years of the BSPH curriculum include traditional liberal arts courses, medical school pre-requisites, and core public health courses developed specifically for the BSPH program. All students will complete the required general education courses, the traditional pre-medical prerequisite, and carefully selected core public health courses. Through this innovative and robust curriculum, all students will meet the minimum 120 credits required to earn the Bachelor of Science in Public Health, and the required minimum 30 credits that constitute NSU’s General Education Program.
The schedule is structured so that students take a minimum of one public health course each semester, which optimizes a sense of inclusion in the public health program from the onset and reinforces ongoing mentorship, support, and guidance from COM faculty. The fourth year of the program is comprised exclusively of courses in the public health concentration, with coursework ranging in focus from community health to public health informatics so as to fully prepare the student for a myriad of career choices in public health.
“Students pursuing the accelerated BSPH-DO option will pursue a concurrent course of study in their 4th year comprised of courses in the medical concentration that fulfill the requirements for the BSPH degree alongside the first year DO curriculum,” says Messer.
The BSPH program is led by the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s esteemed faculty members with an integrated approach to instruction and opportunities for interprofessional engagement.
NSU has started actively recruiting for the fall 2017 academic semester. High-achieving secondary school students, who desire to pursue an undergraduate degree in Public Health and/or those who are interested in an osteopathic medical education with a firm foundation in public health and the biomedical sciences, are perfect candidates for this new program.

Additional information regarding this innovative new program can be obtained by contacting NSU’s Public Health program office at (954) 262-1664.

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