George Stewart, PhD., Director, School of Allied health and Life Sciences, University of West Florida

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George Stewart, PhD., Director, School of Allied health and Life Sciences, Director of the MPH program at University of West Florida joins us today to discuss public health education.

1. Can you tell us about the online MPH programs offered at University of West Florida?

The University of West Florida went online with the MPH program in Spring 2006 in order to provide opportunities for people worldwide wishing to work in the public health and allied health fields. The planning, development, and evaluation of the online MPH program is guided by the Master of Public Health Steering Committee with program competencies adopted from the Association of Schools of Public Health . The adopted competencies are also the basis for the national Certified in Public Health Exam . Additionally, the Quality Assurance Plan within the School of Allied Health and Life Science at UWF calls for regularly planned and evaluated quality enhancement initiatives , with results reported annually to administrative offices and our regional accreditation agency.

2. How long does a typical online MPH program take at University of West Florida? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?

Typically 2 years.  Minimum 18 months, max 6 years

3. What do you think makes University of West Florida stand out from other online MPH programs?

It is CEPH accredited, enjoys a national reputation, has close ties with the military medical residency program and regional public health departments, supports identification and screening of internships within the student’s geographical area, does not require any time at the home location (Pensacola), and enrolls around 40 physicians and other health professionals.

4. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing an online MPH program?

Can be a deal –breaker for some positions in public health and confirms a level of academic quality that may or may not be in place at non-accredited programs.

5. There is some debate as to whether or not online MPH degrees are as worthwhile as traditional MPH degrees. What steps does UWF  take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they’d receive in a classroom?

Our program has earned “Quality Matters” acclaims and status for many of our courses which speaks to the rigor and thoroughness of the didactic framework on which they are built.  Moreover, most of faculty have taught the same courses both online and f2f and concluded that the online format allows for much greater interaction with students, allows application of a greater variety of didactic strategies, and exposes students to a significantly greater amount of  material.

6. What are the advantages to earning a MPH degree in general?

This question can be answered by a search for “jobs in public health” – an incredible number of jobs are currently available globally, many of which require a MPH degree.

7. Does University of West Florida offer job placement for students who graduate in public health?

We provide a job site for our graduates and the internship as well as opps to work on community health projects put the student in place with potential employers in a setting that allows them to demonstrate their worth.

8. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in public health? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

There are some opportunities for graduate teaching assistantships and a few merit-based scholarships.

9. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in an online MPH program for the first time?

The MPH is a valuable degree for those seeking employment in health care/public health.  Earning this degree will place you in the public health arena with knowledge and skills that will  position you for engagement in making a difference in the lives and health of the community in which you operate.

10. What do you enjoy most about your position at University of West Florida?

Helping  students in their professional development.

For more information on the online MPH programs offered at UWF, visit them online at http://www.uwf.edu/sahls/masters-ph/

Thank you George, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!

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