Public Health Program gets stamp of approval

After three years of preparation, Western’s Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health’s Master of Public Health Program (MPH) has received accreditation for five years from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), making it the first program in the province, and only the fourth in Canada, to receive this stamp of approval.

“What this means is that we’ve met some very exacting standards that ensure we are imparting quality public health education to our students,” said Amardeep Thind, Director of the Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health. “It is a huge pat on the back for Western to have received accreditation so soon after the development of the program.”

The program was established in 2013 as a 12-month intensive program with a case-based approach to learning. Students graduate with a Master of Public Health degree.

For MPH candidate Melissa Fernandes, receiving word of the accreditation further solidified her faith that the program, although still new, was one of the best in the country.

Fernandes worked in public health at a postsecondary institution for four years before pursuing her Master of Public Health degree. “This program is unique in its case-based approach to education, and I feel it has strengths that no other program has,” she said. “CEPH’s accreditation gives power to the program in a way that resonates with colleagues and employers.”

Her classmate Mark Gera agreed, “As the only CEPH accredited program in Ontario, this really paves the way for this model of case-based learning.”

The accreditation not only attests that the program has met international standards for its curriculum, content and administration, but also opens more doors for students upon graduation. “The CEPH stamp means a lot to employers internationally and south of the border,” said Diana Lee, program manager. “Many public health employers in the U.S. will ask that your degree be from a CEPH accredited program.”

The accreditation will also allow graduates of the program to write the National Board of Public Health Examiners credentialing exam, which is only open to students from CEPH accredited programs. This exam allows graduates to be considered public health experts.

It is rare for a program to have received accreditation this early after its establishment. “We felt we could go for it even though our program is still relatively new because we believe in the quality of the program,” Thind said.

CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs. The accreditation process took place over a two-day period in March following three years of preparation. The Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health complied with all 22 criteria reviewed by the accreditors, which were divided into four categories; the public health program; instructional programs; creation, application and advancement of knowledge; and faculty, staff and students.

“The Master of Public Health Program at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry continues the School’s tradition of providing key, relevant and exceptional learning experiences,” said Dr. Michael J. Strong, Schulich Dean. “It offers students the opportunity to lead change in public health in the community, across Canada and around the world.”