September 22, 2016

Dual graduate degree program combines physician assistant and public health leadership studies

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physician assistantMSPAS graduate, Carl Frizell (left) gains clinical experience with guidance from PA Stephanie McGilvray (center).The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions and School of Public Health are partnering to offer graduate students a dual degree in Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Public Health.

“We are looking forward to the group of incoming students who will participate in this dual degree program beginning spring 2017,” said Max Michael, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Public Health. “The joint program prepares students pursuing the MSPAS degree for leadership roles that address public health care needs.”

The MSPAS/MPH dual degree program provides opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and a public health practice experience with rural primary care clinical community partners. The innovative program enhances physician assistant education with integrated training in public health and primary care, providing students with the information and skills needed to monitor and assess public health, develop and analyze programs and policies, coordinate and integrate care, and utilize appropriate population health measures in quality improvement strategies.

“We recognize the role of today’s health care provider extends beyond the clinic and into the community, so the addition of public health expertise to a physician assistant’s medical knowledge immediately improves the access and quality of care for everyone,” said UAB School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D. “In addition to being graduates of a top-ranked PA program, the graduates of the MSPAS/MPH dual degree will also have a thorough understanding of social and environmental health concerns, and the skills to promote healthy strategies and quality of life improvement.”

Students will choose to focus their MPH in one of four areas: environmental health science, epidemiology, health behavior, or health care organization and policy, or receive a general MPH through a combination of these programs. The MSPAS/MPH program requires 40 credit hours in the MPH program, taking 26 credit hours prior to fall matriculation in the physician assistant program. Twelve credit hours of coursework in the PA program curriculum accrue toward both degrees.

MSPAS/MPH students complete a specially designed integrated public health/primary care internship and tailor their master’s research project topic to address the public health needs of medically underserved communities.

MSPAS/MPH students complete a specially designed integrated public health/primary care internship and tailor their master’s research project topic to address the public health needs of medically underserved communities. UAB’s PA program is ranked No. 16 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

Students are admitted separately into the MSPAS and MPH programs. Upon acceptance to the MSPAS program, dual degree students will be accepted automatically to the MPH degree program. In addition to meeting the stated requirements for each degree separately, to qualify for admission, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree and all MSPAS prerequisites before Dec. 30 in order to start the dual degree program the following spring term. The deadline to apply for the dual MPH for spring 2017 is Aug.1.

For additional information on the MSPAS/MPH program, contact Angela Sullivan in the UAB School of Public Health at amsulli@uab.edu or Kelley Swatzell, DrPH in the UAB School of Health Professions at ksw@uab.edu

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