October 24, 2018

SIU’s Public Health Program earns longest possible accreditation

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Public Health Program recently earned a seven-year accreditation, the maximum term possible, from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

“Gaining this accreditation status for the maximum of seven years positions SIU to be a champion of the public health community for the region, state and nation, and to help direct workforce development activities in response to multi-faceted needs,” Robert J. McDermott, interim chair of the Department of Public Health and Recreation Professions and public health graduate program director, said.

SIU’s Public Health Program offers a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and McDermott notes that this is critically important and becoming more so all the time due to the demand for high-level professional expertise in the healthcare industry. Both within the United States and around the world, challenging and emerging health problems must be addressed and the need for a healthier public must be met.

SIU graduates can meet growing needs

In addition, a shortage is anticipated in the field, as the National Library of Medicine estimates about 250,000 public health position vacancies in the next decade as public health professionals retire.

SIU’s MPH degree prepares graduates to address a variety of challenges, according to McDermott, including:

  • Monitoring the health status of communities.
  • Investigating health problems and hazards.
  • Mobilizing community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.
  • Developing policies and plans to support individual and community health efforts.
  • Informing, educating and empowering people about health issues.
  • Advocating for laws and regulations to protect health and ensure safety.
  • Connecting people to personal health services and care they need.

Unique rural perspective

SIU’s Public Health Program is somewhat unique. While graduates are prepared for a myriad of positions within the global health industry, much of the focus is on rural public health. SIU has one of few programs in the nation with that specialty.

“In some respects, our geographic area is a ‘natural laboratory’ for responsive public health training due to the challenging problems in health education, service and care that are right in front of us,” McDermott said.

Students and faculty are involved in community engagement experiences which enhances their learning, offers unique research opportunities and improves health care in the region. Practicums at sites around the region and beyond provide students with experiential learning.

There are four program options

Within SIU’s MPH program, students can choose from several options:

  • Master of Public Health in Community Health Education.
  • Master of Public Health in Community Health Education in conjunction with the MEDPREP program.
  • Master of Public Health concurrent with SIU School of Medicine doctor of medicine program.
  • Master of Public Health concurrent with doctorate in health education.

Maximum accreditation result of many factors

The accrediting agency could have elected to accredit SIU’s program for a two-year or five-year period, but a number of factors and improvements assured the maximum seven-year span, McDermott notes.

He said SIU has expanded its faculty, added senior leadership, brought in Heather Goelz as program adviser, and offers superior career counseling, advisement, and a wide variety of quality practicum settings.

To learn more

Learn about SIU’s MPH program online or contact McDermott at 618/453-1841 or robert.mcdermott@siu.edu.