Public Health Sciences’ Graduate Programs Welcome Largest Class

The Department of Public Health Sciences welcomed 70 new students – the largest class to date – into the department’s Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) graduate program last month. Also joining the graduate programs were nine new Ph.D. students, five in epidemiology and four in biostatistics. They join 48 members of the M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2017, who began their M.P.H. coursework in June as part of their dual-degree program.

The size and scope of the new class, which pushed the department’s enrollment over 300 for the first time, underscores the department’s commitment to continue expanding its student body to meet the nation’s looming shortage of public health professionals. As the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health notes,”America will be short more than a quarter million public health workers by 2020. That’s one-third of the workforce needed to keep the world we live in healthy.”

David Lee, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences and Director of Graduate Programs in Public Health Sciences, opened the August 22 new student orientation with an equally timely and relevant quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health sciences and Assistant Dean for Public Health, spoke to the students about the many opportunities awaiting them. “Pursuing public health training here at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine provides an array of opportunities to collaborate with expert researchers who are examining ways to tackle some of the most pressing public health issues of our time,” she said. “You are only limited by your imagination. I encourage you to seek out the many opportunities this campus has to offer you.”

The students, who were treated to a full day of informative presentations about the opportunities and services available at the Miller School, are a strikingly diverse group. Twenty-five percent are black or African American, 15 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent Asian. Forty-one percent are citizens of other countries, including China, England, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador. Many are naturalized U.S. citizens born in South or Central America or the Caribbean. Thirty-four percent are Floridians; the remainder are from other U.S. states and territories.

The students also come from a wide variety of disciplines, including biology, business, chemistry, environmental sciences, history, languages, law, health, nutrition, psychology, and zoology. Thirty-seven percent hold advanced degrees, including M.D.s, M.B.B.S.s, J.D.s, or Ph.D.s, while 25 percent aspire to continue to medical school.

“We are so pleased to welcome this class of students, who share the department’s passion to improve the health of our neediest populations by translating knowledge into policy and practice that promotes health and prevents disease,” said José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical Translational Science Institute.

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