Loyola provides graduate students skills for careers in public health

The Stritch School of Medicine is featuring a new Institute of Public Health that will offer classes both online and at the school in Maywood, Ill.
The Stritch School of Medicine is featuring a new Institute of Public Health that will offer classes both online and at the school in Maywood, Ill.

Loyola established an Institute of Public Health at the Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill. To provide graduate students with enhanced education and skills for future careers in public health.

“The Institute of Public Health is a program that will unite scholars from multiple schools within the university,” said Amy Luke, Ph.D., director of the institute and professor of public health sciences at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine.

Through funding from Loyola’s Health Sciences Division, the new institute is designed to accomplish several goals, with the main one being “to help reduce the global burden of disease, improve international health and decrease health disparities,” Luke said.

Luke said that the main reason Loyola decided to create this institute now was to build upon the MPH program, create more funding options and resources to expand their Public Health program to include accrediting the MPH program, creating a Ph.D. program and expanding their research facilities.

Currently, the institute offers graduate students a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program with concentrations in public health policy and health management and epidemiology, the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. Director Holly Kramer, M.D., initiated the MPH program in 2009 after recognizing a need for Loyola to train professionals in public health.

The institute is not a separate facility at Loyola, but an umbrella program, so the only students who are currently “in” the institute are those graduate students who are enrolled in the MPH program at/or online through the Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill.

Through the public health policy and health management sector of MPH, graduate students are able to take courses completely online, making it possible to continue working while also giving them the freedom to finish their degrees from anywhere in the world, Luke said. Courses in the epidemiology concentration are a mix of online and traditional classroom coursework.

However, on-campus classes in Maywood, Ill. are offered in the evening to accommodate those students who also hold full-time jobs.

Luke said the idea to develop the Institute of Public Health arose a few years after the startup and success of the MPH program, and provides Loyola’s Health Sciences Division (HSD) with the ability to expand its research and education opportunities. The Health Sciences Division is a division that promotes and enhances education and research on Loyola’s Health Sciences Campus. The division includes the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, the Stritch School of Medicine and the biomedical research programs of the Graduate school. The HSD is located in Maywood, Ill.

Though the institute only currently supports the MPH program, Luke said the goal is to create multiple programs, one of which being a Ph.D. program in public health.

“By establishing the institute, the development of these new programs can be handled by [the institute] rather than faculty who have their hands full with their teaching and research,” Luke said.

At this time, the main focus of the institute is finalizing the accreditation of the Master’s in Public Health program. However, new degree-granting programs are in development, as well as the formalization of the Department of Public Health Sciences’ international research and training activities.

“The faculty of the MPH program and I, as director of the Institute of Public Health, are very excited as we move forward with this new venture,” Luke said. “We look forward to working with students to become leaders in training public health professionals.”

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