Jessica Lincoln | staff writer
Next fall, Duquesne will become the first university in Western Pennsylvania to offer an undergraduate program in public health.
The Rangos School will offer two degree programs in public health, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, along with a new Bachelor of Science program in Health Sciences.
“We are truly excited about these new undergraduate degree program offerings at the Rangos School,” Dean Fevzi Akinci said in a statement with four other faculty members.
“Our advisors were instrumental in providing feedback and clarity as we explored how best to develop, present and implement this new program. Since gaining program approval, we have continued to work collaboratively with them to ensure a smooth transition as we work towards implementation.”
The Bachelor of Science program in Public Health will focus on the scientific aspects of the field, including the study of infectious and chronic diseases and disease outbreaks, environmental health and general epidemiology.
The Bachelor of Arts program will focus on the social, behavioral and community health aspects of public health, including global health, program planning, development and assessment.
Both programs will be accredited and interdisciplinary, and both will require students to complete one fieldwork experience. The Bachelor of Science will require 131 credits, while the Bachelor of Arts will require 122. Students are only permitted to transfer into the first or second year of either program.
The minor in public health, which enrolled its first group of approximately 25 students in January, is also available to undergraduate students in any major. The minor includes coursework in global health, biostatistics and epidemiology, as well as a general public health course and an elective.
“A public health minor will improve your understanding about how local, regional, national and international issues influence knowledge systems and social practices around health and well-being,” said Brenda Swanson-Bierman, an assistant professor in the Rangos School.
“Students will be able to make connections between their area of study and public health concepts including injury and disease prevention.”
The other new program coming next fall, the B.S. in Health Science, is meant to provide students a more flexible path to professional degree programs in the health sciences and other career options. It will consist of two primary tracks, integrated health and pre-health.
The integrated health track is designed for students looking to pursue a healthcare career path immediately after graduation. It will provide foundational training in sports medicine, exercise science, kinesiology, nutrition and wellness, and students will be able to customize their elective choices to focus on public health, healthcare administration or other fields.
The pre-health track is designed for students committed to or looking to pursue a professional degree program after graduation. The curricular plan will vary depending on the requirements of the professional degree program. The professional programs supported include medicine, dental medicine, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies and other areas of the health sciences.
While some new courses will be developed for the new majors, the programs will also capitalize on existing courses across campus and the upcoming end of the undergraduate athletic training program.
“As the athletic training degree program pursues a transition to the graduate level necessitating some shifts in faculty teaching responsibilities, we will look to expand the department’s faculty complement to meet new program demands,” the faculty statement said.
All of the new programs are meant to respond to a growing need for workers in public health and healthcare occupations, according to the school’s website.
“Maintaining and improving public health is one of the great mandates of our time, both in the U.S. and abroad,” Swanson-Bierman said.
Faculty are hopeful that these new programs will provide Duquesne students with experience in a broad range of disciplines, opening up even more career possibilities for them at home and abroad.