Like many other undergraduate students, Jeanette Deason knew she wanted to go to graduate school, but wasn’t sure where. A statistics major at the University of Iowa, Deason envisioned eventually working in medical testing and clinical trials.
When she attended a meeting introducing the new Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) program offered through the UI College of Public Health, the pieces started to fall into place.
“I didn’t know about public health at all, but when I heard about the type of careers and wide scope of options with this degree, it really sparked my interest,” Deason recalls.
The College of Public Health’s U2G program provides an opportunity for students interested in health sciences to earn both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in just five years. Deason chose to pursue the Master of Public Health (MPH) in quantitative methods. Other MPH options are available in community and behavioral health, epidemiology, occupational and environmental health, and policy. Master of Science degrees in epidemiology and industrial hygiene are also available.
U2G students begin taking graduate coursework in their fourth year, the same year they complete their undergraduate degree. They complete their graduate coursework in the fifth year.
Deason, who is originally from Granite Bay, California, says shifting from undergraduate to graduate-level classes was a relatively smooth transition.
“I think the biggest change was moving from the undergraduate mindset of ‘I’m taking this class because I have to to graduate,’ to ‘I’m genuinely interested in every class I have,’” she says.
Another benefit was the focus and personalization of graduate studies. “At the graduate level, the professors know your name and your interests,” she adds.
Deason is set to graduate this December, making her the first student to complete the U2G program. She’s currently looking for a job, ideally in a larger city. Right now, Denver or Chicago are on the top of her list.
“I want to be a biostatistician with clinical trials,” Deason says when asked about her dream job, adding that there are a lot of career choices available with her degrees, ranging from working for a pharmaceutical company to working in an academic setting. The latter is her preference. “An academic setting would offer more groundbreaking work and experience,” she says.
College of Public Health students Don Brathwaite and Sefonobong Obot have been selected to take part in the 2018 Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy, which meets Jan. 8-12.
The Obermann Graduate Institute is a one-week interdisciplinary program in which UI graduate students from across campus explore how public engagement can enhance teaching, research, and creative work.
During the week, participants discuss theories of engagement and meet with experts, including former Obermann Graduate Fellows, faculty members, UI administrators, and potential community partners. They participate in a site visit—usually a community space that has collaborated with UI partners and that can suggest how to organize a successful partnership. Fellows also develop their own engaged project, which they present in draft form at the end of the institute and then again in a public forum of their choice.
Brathwaite is a joint degree student pursuing both Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees. He holds a BS in Physiology and Health from Maharishi University. He says he considers social justice his lifelong goal.
“Personally, being from an underserved community, I have always wanted to give back,” he says. “It gives me a sense of fulfillment. It gives me a purpose, being able to take what I have learned…to give others a chance to experience health, wellness, and happiness.”
Obot is a second-year MPH student in community and behavioral health. She earned a BA in biological chemistry and political science at Grinnell College. In the future, she hopes to earn her MD so she can practice as a preventative medicine physician (primary care), where her public health background will be advantageous in addressing underlying health disparity and inequity among her patients. She is also very interested in languages and hopes to continue learning Chinese.
Angela Toepp, a doctoral student in epidemiology, recently participated in the Young Investigator Award contest at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s (ASTMH) annual meeting in Baltimore. This award encourages developing young scientists to pursue careers in various aspects of tropical disease research.
Toepp received Honorary Mention from the Vectorborne Disease Immunology and Epidemiology Section out of more than 20 contestants, and was one of 15 students honored in this way out of 200 entries into the contest. Toepp works in the Dr. Christine Petersen Laboratory and presented the vaccine trial work for which she has been the primary analyst, “Field trial to assess leishmaniosis vaccine effectiveness as a potential immunotherapy in asymptomatic dogs.”
The College of Public Health Student Association (CPHSA) invites you to join the movement of spreading kindness and positivity around the college! The UI CPH Random Acts of Kindness Week runs October 23-27.
A Random Act of Kindness is a simple yet significant gesture that can really make someone’s day. This could mean writing notes of encouragement to students studying hard in the commons. It could be buying coffee for the next person in line. It could be running an errand for a busy friend or writing a sincere thank you note to your professor or advisor. Here are some more examples of acts of kindness you could do: http://www.bradaronson.com/acts-of-kindness/
Whatever gestures you decide to do, be sure to share it with others both in person with a note and on social media using the hashtag #CPHActsOfKindness and @randomacts.org to be a part of National Random Acts of Kindness organization’s mission and movement.
The most important things to remember are to be creative and spread some kindness because it does make a difference!
In October 2017, a team of graduate students from the Department of Health Management and Policy put their analytical and presentation skills to the test at the national Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition.
The students were the first-ever University of Iowa team to participate in the case competition held at the 32nd Annual Educational Conference of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) in San Antonio, Texas.
NAHSE is a non-profit association of black health care executives founded in 1968 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and development of black health care leaders and elevating the quality of health care services rendered to minority and underserved communities.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to practice their skills and build their professional network,” says Dan Gentry, clinical professor of health management and policy, director of the UI Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, and the team’s faculty mentor. “It’s also a way our program can nurture and support more diversity among our students and in the health care executive profession.”
The UI team members included Alton Croker, a third-year health services and policy doctoral student; Winnie Uluocha, a third-year MHA/JD student; and Nora Kopping, a second-year MHA student. Kylor Sorensen, a second-year MHA/MBA student, and Jamison Robinett, a first-year MHA student, served as observer and potential alternate, and observer, respectively.
Advancing Diverse Leadership
The 28 teams were given a unique case study and were charged with applying their creativity, knowledge, and experience to analyze the diverse and real situations facing the health care organization featured in the case.
“I think it’s important that our school was represented at the case competition, not only because of the exposure that we had to minority health care executives, but also because it speaks to what we’re moving towards in the program, in terms of population health and the implications of social determinants on health,” says Uluocha. “Personally, it was extremely important for me to see African American leaders represented in the health care field, and also to have the opportunity to learn from and network with some of the brightest minds in health care to tackle real world problems.”
“Iowa is uniquely positioned with such a strong program in health administration,” Croker says. “Being affiliated with a program like NAHSE that aims to advance minority health care leaders is great as a commitment to the broader profession, but also for our own program, and making sure that we see that reflected at all levels.”
“Case competitions are an opportunity to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world,” adds Kopping. “Having done one case competition before [at a different school], I can say that it was the single greatest learning opportunity I had in the program. Second, it’s really important for me as a future health care leader to understand how to incorporate diversity and inclusion into health care administration.”
Sorensen points out that the range of academic backgrounds represented on the team also added to the experience.
“We had a PhD student, a law student, an MHA/MBA student – we had all these areas of academia coming together, and it brought a lot to the table,” Sorensen says. “Everyone brought a different insight into the problems that are being faced in health care today.”
The MHA program recently added diversity to its set of core values, and participating in the case competition was an opportunity to put the program’s values into practice, Sorensen points out.
“It’s something tangible,” Uluocha agrees.
A Huge Step Forward
Three weeks prior to the competition, each team received the case study to prepare their presentation. During the competition, each team had 20 minutes to present their analysis and recommendations, which was followed by a 10-minute question and answer period. Presentations were made before a panel of judges representing leaders in the health care field, corporate sponsors, and academia.
The Iowa team advanced as far as the semi-final round of 10 graduate student teams.
“Our Iowa team gave a second amazing presentation in the semi-finals,” says Gentry. “This was a great win for them personally and a huge step forward for our tremendous program and department.”
MPH student Caroline Woods, MS, PA-C, will present at the Many Faces of Community Health Annual Conference in Minneapolis on Oct. 27. The theme of the conference is “Community Centered Care and the People We Serve.”
Woods, together with Jasmine Sronkoski from Inclusive Dubuque, will present “Becoming an Inclusive Professional: Working with People Who Are Transgender, Intersex & Gender Non-Conforming.”
As a health educator, Woods is passionate about addressing the medico-social needs of clients and advancing inclusivity in community health.
“This experience will allow me to connect with professionals in social work, community health, and medicine who wish to learn more about individual and systems change to improve the well-being of their clients,” she says.