Prototype Curricular Models for Undergraduate Public Health Education

Introduction and Background

The Community Colleges and Public Health Project is a joint effort of the Framing the Future Task Force, convened by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), and the League for Innovation in the Community College (League). In the first phase of the project, an Expert Panel developed a series of Foundation and Consensus Statements that reflected what public health and community colleges could do together.

The second phase, recommended by the Expert Panel, focuses on development of "prototype curricular models" designed for Associate degrees and academic certificate programs in community colleges. Two basic models, 1) Public Health: Generalist & Specialization, and 2) Health Navigator*, were chosen after consultations with community colleges, project and Task Force leadership, public health practice organizations (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, ASTHO; National Association of County and City Health Officials, NACCHO), and academic associations in disciplines which offer related bachelor's degree programs (Society for Public Health Education, SOPHE; the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, AUPHA; Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs, AEHAP).

*The term Health Navigator is intended to be a generic term to describe the academic certificate or degree program. It is not designed as a job title and it is not intended to imply a connection with the Affordable Care Act.

Prototype Curricular Models

The prototype curricular models are designed to provide high-priority curricula leading to Associate degrees. They are designed to provide general frameworks that can be modified to accommodate institutional, educational system, and state certifying requirements for Associate degrees, professional credentialing, and transfer to bachelor’s degree programs.

The sample course content outlines were developed for core and required courses to encourage a consistent approach to the development of Associate degrees without restricting community colleges in their approach to structuring degrees, developing courses, or evaluating outcomes. The course content outlines for health education, health administration, and environmental health were developed in collaboration with SOPHE, AUPHA, and AEHAP, respectively. A course content outline for an elective course in Public Health Preparedness was developed in collaboration with ASTHO and NACCHO.

The Public Health: Generalist & Specializations and Health Navigator prototype curricular models share a common set of recommended core public health and foundational coursework. Together these core public health courses should provide an introduction to at least the following Critical Component Elements of an Undergraduate Major in Public Health: Overview of Public Health, Health Communications, Identifying and Addressing Population Health Challenges, Determinants of Health, Overview of the Health System, and Role and Importance of Data in Public Health.

The prototype curricular models were designed together to allow students enrolled in community colleges with multiple public health-related programs to initially pursue foundational and core public health courses before selecting between available Associate degree offerings.

These prototype curricular models are not intended or presented as complete Associate degree programs. Each community college is encouraged to add additional requirements and/or electives to bring the curriculum in line with its expectations for an Associate degree or an academic certificate program. It is recommended that the curriculum include learning outcomes for general education and specialized course work and that courses be taught as lower-division courses that meet baccalaureate degree expectations. For instance, science courses should include a laboratory component. Community colleges are encouraged to use the AAC&U LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes to guide this process.

Descriptions of the Public Health: Generalist & Specializations and the Health Navigator prototype curricular models and course content outlines are included in the next section. Table 1 summarizes the two models side-by-side.

Table 1: Recommended Prototype Curricular Models for Public Health Associate Degree Programs

  Public Health: Generalist & Specializations Health Navigator
Foundational- 3 semester credit hours
Human Health/Personal Health and Wellness
Human Health/Personal Health and Wellness
Core Public Health
9 semester credit hours
Overview of Public Health,
Health Communications,
Evidence-based Thinking in Health (based on AAC&U’s Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills- STIRS)
Overview of Public Health,
Health Communications,
Evidence-based Thinking in Health (based on AAC&U’s Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills- STIRS)
Required Public Health
9 - semester credit hours
Health Education,
Health Administration,
Environmental Health
Alternatively, 9 semester hours in one of these three disciplines may be substituted
Prevention and Community Health,
Health Care Delivery,
Health Insurance
These courses should be included in academic certificate programs as well as Associate degrees
Experiential
3 semester credit hours
Community-based experience
Experiential learning focused on community health, health care delivery, and/or health insurance. Experiential learning should be included in academic certificate programs as well as Associate degree programs.
Electives
6 to 9 semester credit hours
Wide range of potential electives with emphasis on broad population issues such as health and diversity and global health. A public health preparedness course should also be offered.
May include specific diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV; defined populations such as the elderly, maternal and child etc.; and/or population issues such as health and diversity as well as global health. A public health preparedness course should also be offered.

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Public Health: Generalist & Specializations Prototype Curricular Framework      top

The Public Health: Generalist & Specializations Associate degree curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for public health and related programs at the bachelor’s degree level. The intent is to encourage students to transfer to bachelor’s degree programs in the health field including public health generalist, health education, health administration, and environmental health programs. Associate degree graduates need basic skills and knowledge consistent with the Critical Component Elements of an Undergraduate Major in Public Health. Basic written and oral communication skills as well as basic quantitative skills are essential for success.

The following program is designed as an Associate degree for transfer. It is recommended that course work be taught as lower division courses that meet baccalaureate degree expectations. Click on course titles to view course content outlines.

Associate Degree Program - a 60 semester credit hour Public Health: Generalist & Specializations Associate degree program including general education courses with 30 to 33 semester credit hours of public health subject area content as follows:

Foundational

  • Human Health/Personal Health and Wellness (3 semester credit hours)

Public Health Core

Required Courses (for specific courses, see Specializations, below)

  • Health Education (3 semester credit hours)
  • Health Administration (3 semester credit hours)
  • Environmental Health (3 semester credit hours)

Alternatively, 9 semester credit hours in one of these three disciplines may be substituted utilizing content outlines for three coordinated courses developed in collaboration with the corresponding academic association and designed for transfer to a bachelor’s degree. See Specializations, below.

Experiential Learning

  • Experiential learning - 3 semester credit hours including curricula on working with individuals, institutions, and communities

Electives

6 to 9 credit hours including a course in Public Health Preparedness as well as such courses as Prevention and Community Health; Health & Diversity; Global Health, etc.

Specializations

The CC&PH project has been working with the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), and the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs (AEHAP) to develop coordinated specialty curricula designed for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs in Health Education, Health Administration, or Environmental Health respectively. These disciplines were chosen because of the existence of well-established bachelor’s degree programs represented by national academic associations and a national accreditation or certification process. In addition, Health Education and Environmental Health offer a certifying examination at the completion of the bachelor’s degree.

Specialized curricula were developed for health education, health administration, and environmental health, including 9 semester credit hours of course work designed for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs. Each curriculum includes an introductory/overview course which can be taught as part of the generalist program and which also serves as a prerequisite course for the other two courses in the 9 semester credit hour community college specialization curriculum. These specializations may also be offered as part of academic certificate programs.

Each of the public health core and specialization courses includes a content outline. Content outlines for each of the following 3-semester credit hour courses were developed in collaboration with the three academic associations.

Health Education

Health Administration

Environmental Health (the first course and any 2 of the last 3 are recommended)

Thus, four options are recommended as part of the Public Health: Generalist & Specializations prototype curricular model: 1) Public Health Generalist; 2) Health Education; 3) Health Administration; and 4) Environmental Health. Community colleges whose mission includes providing education for health professionals are encouraged to offer one or more of these options.

Please provide your reactions and feedback for the Public Health: Generalist & Specializations curricular framework.

Health Navigator Prototype Curricular Framework      top

The Health Navigator program curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for employment as Community Health Workers, patient navigators, and health insurance navigators. The intent is to educate health professionals with expertise and experience in assisting individuals and communities to navigate the U.S. community health, health care, and health insurance systems and accomplish their own personal prevention and health care goals. Graduates should have coursework and experience in all three areas including a culminating experiential curriculum as well as experiential education built into their course work. Basic written and oral communication skills as well as basic quantitative skills are essential for success.

Several core competencies that lay outside traditional public health training should be integrated into the curriculum. These include patient-centered care (advocacy for patient-centered integrated care); cultural sensitivity; patient-centered planning, including joint decision making and patient self-management; coordinated care (comprehensive care of patient and family); and understanding and using health information technology (including HIPPA and use of electronic health records). Concepts of determinants of health should be integrated throughout the curriculum.

The following program is designed as an applied Associate degree. It is recommended that core public health course work be taught as lower division courses that meet baccalaureate degree expectations in order to benefit students who decide to pursue a baccalaureate degree in a health field in the future. Academic certificate programs may also be offered which provide credit for previous relevant course work and/or relevant experience. The curriculum is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate differing state regulations and differing local job markets. Click on course titles to view course content outlines.

Associate Degree Program - a 60 semester credit hour Health Navigator applied Associate degree program with 30 to 33 semester credit hours of subject area content including general education courses as follows.

Foundational

  • Human Health/ Personal Health and Wellness (3 semester credit hours)

Public Health Core

Required Courses

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning in Community Health, Health Care Delivery and/or Health Insurance - 3 semester credit hours. Experiential learning, either as a course or integrated into other courses, needs to address outreach methods and strategies; client and community assessment; support, advocacy and coordination of care for clients; and community capacity building.

Electives

From 6 to 9 semester credit hours addressing state and local regulations and job markets May include specific diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV; defined populations such as the elderly, maternal and child, etc.; and/or population issues such as health & diversity, as well as global health. A public health preparedness course should also be offered.

Please provide your reactions and feedback for the Health Navigator curricular framework.