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The Dornsife School of Public Health: Urban Health, Global Impact

Source: Drexel University

“We view health as a human right and have a special commitment to improving health in cities, eliminating health disparities, and promoting health in all policies.” – Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University

Founded on the principle that health is a fundamental human right, the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University is one of the world’s strongest advocates for social justice and equity as a force for achieving good health for all. At Drexel Dornsife, students are taught to look beyond the needs of the individual, to the communities, social systems and policies that drive population health.

Dornsife’s extensive partnerships in Philadelphia and across the world, as well as the School’s research and practice initiatives, provide a dynamic and rich learning environment that prepares students to meet the public health challenges faced by communities both large and small. The faculty are leading scholars in public health who teach, mentor, and advise students to prepare them to improve public health nationally and globally.

The School consistently invests in its students through state-of-the art academic programs and an environment that combines rigorous research and scholarly activities with a commitment to policy translation and public health practice. The School’s nine research centers and programs also offer students an opportunity to explore an exciting range of public health topics. The Drexel Urban Health Collaborative provides students with unique research and practice experiences locally in Philadelphia and in countries across the globe.

Source: Drexel University

Drexel Dornsife offers more than 14 undergraduate and graduate programs (including masters and doctoral programs) and four certificate programs. The newly redesigned  Master of Public Health (MPH) program allows students to:

  • Experience integration and interdisciplinarity from the first day of classes.
  • Design a degree by choosing from a wide range of majors and minors.
  • Develop expertise through extensive opportunities to conduct research, and learn through regional and international practice experiences.
  • Graduate in only five quarters to gain a head start in the job market.

Other master’s programs across departments also offer students opportunities for specialization in specific areas of public health.

Working with the School’s more than 100 community partners, students greatly expand their knowledge of public health principles in action in real-life practice experiences. Undergraduates participate in Drexel’s Co-op program, which places them in work experiences in their junior year.

These experiences allow Dornsife students to build professional networks and lay the groundwork for successful careers, while they are still earning their degree. It’s just one reason that 89 percent of the School’s graduates are employed by graduation.

Dornsife student experiences are as varied as the field of public health itself. This year, a 2019 Bachelor of Science (BS) candidate’s Co-op was at the NASA Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer (OCHMO)—America’s space agency—to conduct research on the effects of microgravity on heart and Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Drexel University

Passionate about helping her own community after a crisis, a 2019 MPH candidate, born on the island of Puerto Rico, helped grassroots organizations assess health needs and challenges faced by Puerto Rican evacuees after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Her practicum included visiting the island to contribute to the recovery effort.

To build the leadership skills needed to manage a health care organization, a 2018 MPH student earned practicum credit working on business strategy at a major hospital. The project focused on preventing hospital-based infections and managing patient care.

Preparing to pursue a career in epidemiology, a 2018 MPH graduate investigated more effective methods of diabetes prevention in an economically-disadvantaged Philadelphia urban community.

Taking on the issue of air pollution and public health, a 2019 MPH student measured and assessed air quality in Philadelphia, to help local communities learn about environmental risks.

As part of the Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program, and other international study initiatives such as the SALURBAL (Salud Urbana en America Latina) project, students may also travel to Africa, Latin America, India and other countries to support public health efforts.

While in the classroom, MPH students major in Community Health and Prevention, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Health Management and Policy, or Environmental and Occupational Health. They may also specialize by adding one of 13 graduate minors.

Source: Drexel University

“We built our new curriculum working from the actual public health challenges – asking ourselves what it will take to address tough problems,” says Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, dean of the Dornsife School. “The result is a curriculum that is integrated across disciplines, because interdisciplinary, cross-sector teamwork is exactly what is required for 21st century public health practice and research.”

As an institution that aims to be diverse and accessible, the School offers financial support to a majority of students. In 2017, 60 to 68 percent of students received scholarships or grants.

Students at Drexel Dornsife also learn from the school’s wide-ranging events, such as the 2017 Urban Health Symposium Reimaging Health in Cities: from Local to Global. The conference brought together researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers from all over the United States, Australia, Brazil, India, and South Africa.

The School’s impact on community health in the US is so broadly recognized, that it was awarded the 2018 Harrison Spencer Award from the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health, for being the United States’ top school for community-engaged public health.

As a center for excellence for research in urban health, as well as an institution that offers a rigorous, diverse, and challenging curriculum, while maintaining an unparalleled number of community partnerships, Drexel Dornsife offers students a distinctive opportunity to master the discipline of public health through an educational experience that integrates research and practice in ways that are relevant to communities all over the world.

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