In the fall of 2016, the Council on Education for Public Health introduced new criteria for public health education, from undergraduate education to DrPH programs. The new criteria sparked efforts across the world for public health educational programs to come into compliance with the new criteria.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Master of Public Health Program worked with stakeholders including alumni, current students, faculty, staff, and community public health practitioners to craft a new MPH curriculum that was launched in the fall 2019 semester with our incoming cohort.

Having completed the first semester with our new curriculum, the MPH Faculty Director, Ajay Sethi, and Deputy Director, Barbara Duerst held listening sessions with our students to determine the things that were going well in the new curriculum vs. the things that had been challenging. 

Overall, the comments from the students about our new curriculum were very positive. Several themes emerged about the following topical areas:

  • The MPH Program has created a culture of support and a sense of community.
  • The courses have been designed with intention to connect.
  • Faculty are open to feedback and noted that feedback was not only collected, but also used for improvement.
  • Students felt that instructors were flexible and exhibited “reasonableness.”
  • Some students enjoyed the group work and the real-world applications in the fall classes.
  • Faculty advisors are valuable and helped to mentor and make connections for the applied practice experience.
  • Students felt that they had positive experiences in the program because of good advising by Mindy and Kate.
  • Students appreciate that the classes are scheduled on two days, although those days are long.

Students also felt that there were areas in the new curriculum that were challenging or needed some improvement:

  • Some of the new or revised courses had some organizational challenges.
  • Not all instructors used Canvas (LMS) to its full potential, i.e., calendar.
  • Students expressed some frustration over the two interprofessional events that they were required to attend in the Fall (Stop the Bleed and a Case discussion on Autism)
  • Due to some unforeseen circumstances we had to modify length of a few courses. As such the following suggestions were made:
    • PUBLHLTH 782: Determinants of Health and Health Equity should be a full semester
    • PUBLHT 781: Communicating Public Health Effectively I should run a full hour (60 minutes)
    • PUBLHLTH 791: Communicating Public Health Effectively II should run the full semester and meet for two hours/week rather than three.
  • Communication from the program is always an area where we can improve.
  • Some specific groups of students had concerns regarding lack of on-line courses and difficulty scheduling courses that are only offered during 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. time slots (concerns of Nursing Students and Working Students)

The MPH Program has shared the results of the listening sessions with the MPH Core Course Faculty, who will be adjusting their future courses based on the student feedback. The results will also be discussed with the MPH Curriculum Committee.  Some of the comments have already impacted the way that the instructors are offering their Spring core courses. And finally, the Program will be offering listening sessions again in the Spring in conjunction with the annual programmatic feedback survey.  

Overall, we are pleased with the way that the new curriculum is being implemented and received by our stakeholders.