Overarching health care policies and strategies lend the public and private entities that deliver medical care insight into the actual needs of patients, according to the World Health Organization. Public health researchers are responsible for crafting these essential blueprints, which normally aim to unite fragmented national health care systems and close coverage gaps, especially those disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities or populations. Where do these professionals gain the knowledge and experience required to develop health care policies that make an impact? For many, the answer is graduate school.
Master of Public Health programs are particularly popular among aspiring policy analysts and researchers, as these instructional tracks feature multifaceted curricula designed to help students cultivate diverse skill sets. However, not all MPH degree programs are created equal. Future health care policy leaders must pinpoint graduate offerings that set them up for success in an in-demand field that grows more competitive every day. The online Master of Public Health program at Regis College, which ranks among the Princeton Review’s “Best Regional Colleges,” is an ideal option for would-be health care policy creators looking to improve the lives of millions.
Here’s how the degree prepares students for careers in this space:
A strong foundation
Eight, three-credit core courses form the foundation of the Regis College online MPH program. During these sessions, students engage with high-level concepts that underlie public health care policy work: These core courses include:
- Biostatistics: Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is credited with developing the ideological basis for this profession in 400 B.C.E. with the publication of “On Airs, Waters and Places,” an extensive treatise that advised doctors of the day to take into account environmental factors when diagnosing patients, according to an article in the journal Medical Writing. This course dissects the statistical methods that matured in the wake of Hippocrates’ groundbreaking work and now sit at the center of the field data collection schemes that inform public health policy development.
- Health Ethics and Law: Effective health policy professionals take into account ethical and legal variables when creating new policies and initiatives. Here, students in the online MPH program take a deep dive into these various factors and learn how to navigate them when crafting public health policy.
- Contemporary Issues in Environmental Health: Organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention often roll out new public health policy in response to immediate health care issues, which is what this course covers in detail, allowing students to gain an understanding of the pain points they might be tasked with addressing after graduation.
- Epidemiological Methods: Like biostatistics, epidemiology, the study of disease occurrence and distribution, is an essential specialty that public health care policy professionals must understand. Common conditions like ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic pulmonary heart disease kill millions annually, according to WHO, making it critical for aspiring policy analysts and researchers to understand how the ailments are tracked. This course dissects the epidemiological techniques that facilitate such monitoring and make intervention via sound public health policy possible.
- Concepts in Health Administration: Leaders in the field of public health policy development must know how to properly harness clinical and research resources to produce effective and deployable strategies. Here, students develop the administrative awareness needed to turn intent into action.
- Social and Behavioral Sciences: Many of the public health issues policy professionals seek to address are linked to problematic behavioral and social norms. For instance, researchers recently found that unhealthy eating habits may have contributed to half of the deaths linked to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke recorded in the U.S., according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This course helps students understand why patient populations embrace behaviors that harm their wellbeing and how they might address them via public health policy.
- Applied Practice Experience and Integrated Learning Experience: These three-credit, field-based practicum courses allow students enrolled in the online MPH program to deploy their foundational knowledge in the field, building up approximately 270 hours of hands-on experience designed to prepare them for work in public health policy roles.
Specialized concentration courses
Individuals navigating the online MPH program at Regis College can choose from two specialty tracks: an epidemiological route for students intending to pursue research-based positions and a public health policy and management path for those who wish to develop strategies for combating widespread care delivery issues. The latter specialty includes six concentration courses:
- Health Policy Analysis: Aspiring policy creators must understand how sound public health strategies are created, which is the purpose of this course. Here, students learn how to assess policies and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses.
- Health Policy, Politics, and Perspectives: Political preferences and ideologies have an immense impact on public health policy development and implementation. This course explores some of the prevailing views that shape the ways in which policy analysts and researchers approach their work.
- Economics of Health Care: Many major public health problems can be linked to economics. For instance, today an estimated 25 percent of Americans don’t visit the doctor because they cannot afford medical care, according to research from Bankrate. This inevitably lays the groundwork for significant public health problems that those in the online MPH program will have to address.
- Contemporary Issues, Special Populations, and Policies: Here, students wade into the various population-health issues creating care disparities that policy analysts and researchers must tackle.
- State Health Policy: Public health care policy professionals must contend with state-operated care infrastructure when attempting to draft impactful strategies. This course helps students in the online MPH program develop the knowledge and awareness they need to grapple with these confusing administrative structures.
- Health Policy and Program Implementation: Deployability is critical in the public health space, where pie-in-sky policies often crash and burn once applied on the ground. Students learn how to avoid this common outcome during this course, which focuses on program execution and maintenance.
An ideal educational experience
Students who graduate from the online MPH program at Regis College often go on to find success in the public health policy space, cultivating fulfilling careers as health policy analysts — positions that come with average salaries of almost $60,000, researchers for PayScale found. Some earn even higher roles like clinical research director, an integral leadership post with an average salary of $108,000, according to PayScale.
Are you interested in cultivating the skill set that can enable you to find success in these and other key public health policy roles? Contact Regis College today to learn more about the online MPH program.