McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mastering Public Health

New program begins at McMaster University

Published: September 10, 2015
Holger Schünemann, Joyce Chan and Fran Scott at launch of Master of Public Health Program (2015)
Talking together before the launch event for the new Master of Public Health Program are, from left, Dr. Holger Schünemann, chair of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; one of the inaugural students Joyce Chan and Dr. Fran Scott, program director of the new program and associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics.

As an arts and science student at McMaster, Joyce Chan became involved in interviewing older Hamilton adults as part of the Tapestry research project of the Department of Family Medicine.

She was fascinated by how many different aspects of lifestyle and health contributed to an individual's quality of life. Then, working at a Toronto hospital, she was translating academic research results into interventions to be used by both older adult patients and their physicians.

Now the 22-year-old is interested in developing a career of building a healthy community, and she is one of the inaugural class of 30 who have begun the new Master of Public Health Program of McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, led by its Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CE&B).

The program builds on the department's renowned expertise in health policy analysis and health methodology research, and uses McMaster's educational approach of small group, self-directed learning. The program is scheduled to take up to two years full-time or four years if taken part-time.

"This is a great campus and I'm glad to be back," Chan said. "We have small class sizes and professors who are dedicated to supporting us and fostering the critical analysis, research and communication skills we will need. I really like the balanced diversity of the courses, and how the program offers thesis and practicum steams, which are both valuable learning experiences."

In launching the program, Dr. Holger Schünemann, chair of CE&B, said: "This fills a critical gap in the continuum of health science research and practice we offer at McMaster. To make it both unique and fulfilling, our CE&B faculty leaders tapped the well-recognized expertise of colleagues across the university to create this interdisciplinary graduate program."

There are 25 students taking the program full-time and five taking it part-time. They have a mix of backgrounds, with some already in health professions such as medicine and nursing, while others have a recent first degree in health sciences. The program offers either a thesis or practicum stream.

"Public health issues, from infectious diseases such as HIV to chronic diseases such as diabetes and health inequalities, need complex solutions," said program director Dr. Fran Scott, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, graduate of McMaster's medical program and a former Hamilton medical officer of health.

"Graduates of this program will have the breadth of understanding and the strength in competencies needed to tackle future public health problems."

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