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How universities are producing the next generation of healthcare leaders

Healthcare has historically been a contentious political issue. There are often questions around adequate funding, and about the very structure of healthcare policy. Should healthcare be taken care of by the government, or should it be a private system paid for by the patient? And what about less-developed countries, where access to basic healthcare services we too often take for granted is undeniably strained?

Public health is an issue that’s relevant to everyone, since we all need access to healthcare at some point in our lives. Institutions like Universities that offer courses specific to public health – from chronic disease prevention, to infectious diseases, and even workplace health and safety – grant students a platform from which they gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in public health policy and practice.

Students of this subject have the chance to engage with cutting-edge technology, the latest research, and the tools needed to proactively engage in their chosen field of study. In our increasingly globalised, yet economically unequal world, it’s more important now than ever that scientists and medical professionals have the resources necessary to understand (and help us to defend against) current and potential threats to public health, including the spread of disease, and significantly improving healthcare access in many parts of the world.

Knowing and understanding the impacts of modern life are also key to the study of public health. With more and more people living in urbanised areas, often with limited green spaces and intensely built-up environments, what effect is this having on our overall health? Our diets also clearly play a big role in well-being. Most of us are aware of the dangers of things like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that processed foods and excess amounts of sugar pose serious implications in terms of population health.

Public health theory and practice allows students, scholars, scientists and medical professionals to immerse themselves in the issues that face the world today. From exploring the aging process, to specialising in the eradication of tropical diseases, research in these areas benefits us all.

Here are five universities giving students the chance to becoming leaders in healthcare…

COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY – USA

Founded in 1884 and based in Philadelphia, Temple University has 17 schools and colleges – including its innovative College of Public Health. This college is one of the largest and most diverse of its kind in the US, with 47 programs across 17 academic disciplines ranging from traditional public health fields like epidemiology to healthcare and health services fields such as physical therapy and nursing.

Several of the college’s graduate programs made it into the Top 100 on US News rankings, including Speech-Language-Hearing at number 30, Occupational Therapy at number 32, and Physical Therapy at number 53.

The college emphasizes interprofessional education where teams of professionals work together on new solutions for healthcare, disease prevention and social welfare. The strong practical nature of the degrees offered means that students push beyond traditional classroom walls, gaining hands-on experience and a varied scope of expertise that is valued by employers across healthcare and public health institutions.

With its strong community focus and extensive options for internships, Temple’s College of Public Health gives students the chance to start building their professional network early in their program. Whether students begin working in their chosen fields after graduation or continue on to advanced degrees, the college prepares them to improve individual and community health and well-being.

SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, BOSTON UNIVERSITY – USA

Driven by the goal of improving health on a local, national and international scale, Boston University School of Public Health is defined and enriched by the spirit of innovation.

The School is set on providing an education that is nothing short of excellent – an effort that’s reflected in its ranking in the nation’s top 10 schools of public health by US News and World Report. Its six comprehensive academic departments cover everything from Biostatistics, to Community Health Sciences, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Global Health, and Health, Law and Management; presenting students with the ideal platform from which they can pursue a long and successful career in the realm of public health.

The institution’s Global Health Department tackles the most critical health issues of our time. Not only does this globally-recognised department conduct research of the highest quality, but also practically implements said research to improve the lives and well-being of the world’s most impoverished nations.

The School’s Master of Public Health (MPH) degree instils students with a cross-disciplinary, problem-focused foundation in the values, history, strategies and functions of public health. Whether your passion lies in Health Policy and Law, Healthcare Management, Environmental Hazard Assessment, or anything in between, the School’s 17 unique Public Health certificates will give you exactly what you need.

SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND FAMILY MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN (UCT) – SOUTH AFRICA

On top of first-rate academics and an unbeatable setting, UCT’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine promises a high-quality, creating and engaging healthcare learning environment.

Characterised by the Divisions of Public Health Medicine; Family Medicine; Occupational Medicine; Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Health Economics; Health Policy and Systems; Social and Behavioural Sciences; and Environmental Health, the School is whole-heartedly dedicated to promoting equitable access to healthcare service and resources not just in South Africa, but also worldwide.

Above all else, this School is working towards the formulation of a health system that’s as accessible as it is sustainable. It’s about preventing both short-term and lasting injury, disease, premature death and of course, promoting health. Through its cutting-edge research and informed teaching practice, UCT is doing all it can to help us reach these goals.

“The School of Public Health and Family Medicine is a strong multidisciplinary department in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town,” states professor Landon Myer, Head of Department and Director of the School “Our teaching, research and service extend to a wide range of settings and content areas consistent with the evolving disciplines of public health and family medicine.”

DALLA LANA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (U OF T) – CANADA

As the youngest faculty in the whole of U of T, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) is beyond proud to be among the global leaders in public health and health services research.

Inspired by the values of independence, integrity and rigour, the School promotes the ultimate standard of scholarship, scientific evidence, critical thinking, leadership and professionalism, honing the next generation of leaders who will reshape and revolutionise the field of global health.

The DLSHP is readily-equipped with world-reputed experts, scientists, experts and practitioners, instilling more than 800 graduate-level students with the tools they need to thrive. Here, a vast array of Master’s and Doctoral courses open a comprehensive range of career routes for public health, and also practicing health professionals, looking to refine their expertise.

One thing that makes the DLSHP unique is its provision of Residency Training Programs – an opportunity for participants to gain first-hand professional experience from public health and preventative medicine physician specialists, putting students face-to-face with leading figures of the field.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN – DENMARK

Copenhagen’s Department of Public Health has forged a tradition of excellence that spans more than 20 years.

As one of the nation’s most respected specialist Departments in the field, the faculty strives to enhance collaboration with relevant institutions in Copenhagen and the world, putting students at the leading-edge of the most current industry knowledge.

The Department continues to develop and support research and teaching that bolsters global well-being, paving the way to a healthier, happier population on all four corners of the globe.

“The aim of public health research is to create a scientific foundation for improving the health of the population,” the Department website explains.

“This research investigates the health status of the population, efforts being made to improve the health of the population and the endeavours of society to reduce morbidity and mortality. The research is multi-disciplinary and performed by researchers trained in medicine, natural science, social science, and the humanities.”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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