Mississippi University for Women is adding options for undergraduate students in the Public Health Education major and for students in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program.

Dr. Irene Pintado, chair of the Department of Health & Kinesiology, said The W will officially launch an optional healthcare navigator path in the fall of 2023, although students can start working on the health electives that make up the track as soon as the spring of 2023.

“The graduate program is also offering students greater flexibility for enrolling in the MPH program,” said Pintado, who added that The W is accepting applications for the MPH program year-round as part of a rolling admissions process.

“We will review applications continually so students can expect to get an admission decision faster,” Pintado said. “Additionally, students will be able to enroll as first-time graduate students in the fall, spring and summer terms. We expect a new cohort of MPH students starting this spring 2023 term.”

Pintado said the healthcare navigator path and the MPH program will enhance the future career opportunities for Public Health majors.

“Students in the healthcare navigator track will be prepared to work in a healthcare setting and be part of a multidisciplinary team, as such, faculty in the public health program designed the curriculum to reflect that type of interprofessional collaboration,” Pintado said.

The Department of Health & Kinesiology formulated the healthcare navigator path track of study and collaborated with the College of Nursing & Health Science and the Department of Psychology & Family Science. Planning for the track started during the spring 2022 term. The Undergraduate Curriculum Council and the College of Nursing & Health Sciences approved it earlier this year.

“I am excited about this new track and what it means for our students and potentially for the community,” said Dr. Brandy Larmon, dean of the College of Nursing & Health Science at The W.

Pintado said the healthcare navigator track has the same curriculum as the current public health education curriculum but specifies that students in the track take courses such as patient education and health insurance navigation as health electives. She said students in this track also will be required to take courses outside the public health courses, including nursing and health information technology coursework.

“Public health education core courses tend to focus on population health issues and generally prepare students to enter the public health workforce, ready to conduct needs and capacity assessments, identify existing resources and advocate for the health of communities, among other skills,” Pintado said. “Students completing the healthcare navigator track will be ready to apply those same skills when working with communities, but will have completed a set of health electives that will provide them with the specialized knowledge needed to apply the skills in a healthcare setting.”

Public Health Education majors in the healthcare navigator track will be required to complete the Public Health Education core courses (30 semester hours). In addition to the core courses, students will complete required healthcare navigator track electives (21 semester hours):

  • PSY 206- Human Growth and Development
  • NU 204- Healthcare Ethics Across the Lifespan
  • NU 291- Medical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals
  • HED 199- Health Insurance Navigation
  • MIS 340- Healthcare Information Technology

Students also will choose between HED 260 – Patient Education or HED 270 – Health and Wellness Counseling and Education and select one chronic disease elective from the following: HED 301 – Aging and Public Health, HED 316 – Chronic Disease or FN 345- Nutrition and Chronic Disease.

Pintado said that along with seeking to increase flexibility in the timing of admissions to the MPH program, The W continues to work toward securing accreditation for its MPH program. She said The W submitted its initial application for accreditation to the Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH) and that it is working on the changes to the application and hopes to submit them in January. Once accepted, Pintado said The W will start work on the self-study document, which typically takes two years.

Pintado said The W’s work toward accreditation of the MPH program will promote the mobility of its students and enhance their future employment opportunities. She said an accredited MPH program will create opportunities for federally funded programs and public health-specific grants.

Jan. 2, 2023
Contact: Adam Minichino
(662) 329-1976

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

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