MPAS/MPH dual degree
Why should I consider the dual PA / MPH training?
Dual training provides several advantages for the PA:
- Wider choice of career opportunities – PAs who hold an MPH are trained for more than traditional patient care roles. Dually-trained PAs can work as:
a. Staff in local and state health departments
b. Clinic administrator / Lead physician assistant
c. Public health educator
d. Disease surveillance monitor
e. Clinical researcher
f. Physician assistant program faculty member
g. Public health policy analyst (both for the government at all levels and for private corporations)
Right now, dually-trained PAs are working at prestigious organizations such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Merck Pharmaceuticals, the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Physician Assistant Education Association. The first PA to join Doctors Without Borders holds an MPH. Several people who hold the PA and MPH credentials are working in community health centers across the US through the National Health Service Corps.
In addition, PAs who might be interested in applying for the Center for Disease Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Service should be aware that only PAs who possess an MPH are eligible to apply this program.
- Gain a broader perspective on caring for patients– Traditionally, PAs have been trained to focus primarily on the patients right in front of them and not necessarily on the broader health needs of communities. Public health training offers skills in how to assess the impact of the patient’s broader environment on his/her health.
- Increased ability to provide evidence-based medical care– PAs who have additional training in epidemiology and biostatistics are skilled at reading, analyzing, and applying the most recent findings in medical research to their clinical practice. PAs with public health training may take the lead to design and publish medical research studies.
- International opportunities – Although the PA credential is not recognized in most countries in the world, public health training is universally recognized. Many of the world’s most pressing health problems are public health issues more than medical issues (e.g., air and water pollution, lack of vaccines, sanitation problems, and lack of knowledge about preventive health measures). PAs with training in public health are well-equipped to tackle health challenges in the developing world.
Two of our faculty, Darwin Brown and Tamara Ritsema, recently published an article discussing the value of the PA / MPH training.
Why should I come to UNMC for the dual PA / MPH program?
- UNMC has been successfully educating Physician Assistants for almost 40 years. Our graduates consistently perform with excellence on the PA National Certifying Examination (100% first-time pass-rate in 9 of the past 10 years) and quickly find employment in the specialty and location of their choice. Our program is consistently ranked among the top PA programs nationally.
- Students at UNMC have outstanding opportunities to learn both medicine and public health in underserved areas. The UNMC PA program has deep ties to doctors, hospitals and communities throughout Nebraska and the Midwest. Many of these clinical placement sites are in communities which face both medical and public health challenges. Students work closely with physicians and PAs who are working to address these community health issues.
- Personal attention from faculty. The PA Program and the College of Public Health are large enough to offer many opportunities, but small enough that each student can develop relationships with a number of medical and public health faculty members.
What is the PA / MPH Curriculum?
The PA / MPH is a 40-month, on-campus program. Joint PA/ MPH students complete the following curriculum:
The dual program curriculum consists of 27 hours of Master of Public Health core courses, (including 6 hours of Service / Learning and Capstone work). Each student will complete a broad range of public health courses in disciplines including epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health behavior and health policy, plus 12 hours of courses in Community-Oriented Primary Care.
All joint PA / MPH students complete the concentration in Community- Oriented Primary Care (COPC) within the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health. The MPH concentration in COPC is designed to provide students with knowledge, tools, and skills in community orientation of health services. COPC integrates clinical individual care and public health, allowing both approaches to be implemented and carried out by a single team. The conceptual framework of COPC and the curriculum of this concentration are oriented to the implementation of community health care programs as a component of public health. The required COPC courses are:
CPH 551 Community-Oriented Primary Care: Principles and Practice - 3 cr hrs
CPH 552 Opportunities and Challenges in the Application of COPC - 3 cr hrs
CPH 626 Health Information and Surveillance for Public Health Practice - 3 cr hrs
CPH 545 Health Disparities and Health Equity - 3 cr hrs
Course descriptions for all courses and departments can be found in the College of Public Health Student Handbook beginning on page 152.
UNMC Joint PA / MPH students carry their public health expertise into their clinical year. All UNMC physician assistant students are required to spend three consecutive months at a rural family practice site during the clinical phase of the program. The dual degree students will spend a total of four consecutive months at a selected rural site to complete the PA Program requirement and to allow students ample time to complete the MPH Service Learning/Capstone Experience requirement. The Service Learning/Capstone Experience provides you the opportunity to put public health theory into practice and provide community service with a focus on Community Oriented Primary Care. Overview of the Service Learning/Capstone Experience for the MPH portion of the dual degree.
Throughout the clinical phase of the Physician Assistant Program, students will find ample opportunity to integrate public health concepts into the practice of medicine. Common public health issues faced in clinical practice include vaccine refusal, sexually transmitted infections, the impact of air quality on pulmonary patients, and lack of health insurance. Students with public health training will be able to share their expertise in these topics with, and learn from, the patients and staff at their clinical sites.
How do I apply?
Students who wish to apply for the joint program must meet the admissions requirements of both the PA program and the College of Public Health and must submit separate applications to both.
Please note: Students who are accepted to the PA program can apply to the College of Public Health after admission or even during their first year of physician assistant coursework.
- About the Profession
- Our Program
- Admission to the Program
- MPAS Degree Advancement Option (Distance Learning Program)
Handbooks & Policies
- Advancing Rural Primary Care Conference