Leadership in Public Health Transformation

Participating Faculties: Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry (host), Education, Health Sciences, Media and Information Studies, Science, Social Science, Richard Ivey School of Business, School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Project Leaders:
Jack Bend, Bertha Garcia

Total Project Funding:

Funding Period:
3 years


The purpose of this IDI is to establish a Master’s program in Public Health (MPH), an important aim of the 2011-2021 Strategic plan of the Shulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (SSMD) (Optimizing Life-Long Health).  Important first steps were the establishment of a Steering / Advisory Committee and of a Search Committee to identify and select the leaders of the program. Dr. Mohammad Abdur Rab, a PhD from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK and Marlene LeBer, a PhD from the Ivey School of Business, were recruited to Western as Interim Director & Associate Director, respectively. Dr. Rab has an extensive public health education and global field experience; Dr. LeBer has complementary skills and experience in health leadership and partnerships.

The IDI will facilitate the development of the MPH curriculum. The overall aim of the Program is to provide knowledge and skills to enable and prepare students to respond to the public health priorities and needs both at national and international levels.  The MPH will begin in the fall of 2013 and students will complete 42 semester credit hours of training, including a practicum (6-8 weeks).  The Program will focus on key (core) aspects of public health such as;

  • a) Health Care Policy, Planning and Management,
  • b) Health Care Assessment & Evaluation,
  • c) Epidemiology & Biostatistics,
  • d)  Ecosystem & Environmental Health,
  • e) Social Behavior &  Community Health and
  • f) Health Promotion & Prevention.

In addition courses on cross cutting areas such as; research for health, leadership in health, public health ethics, and partnerships in health will be developed and offered. A significant part of the program will be delivered through a case base education model, characterized by interfaculty collaboration.  The necessary documentation for review of the MPH curriculum at Western University and by the Province of Ontario will be developed during the period of IDI support.  The Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH), the international body that accredits MPH programs will be approached to provide necessary guidance regarding accreditation of the Program.

During the period of IDI support the capstone project for the MPH program will be designed. It will be a Practicum for the students during the final semester of the course. The students will be expected to apply their public health knowledge and skills to real issues, especially in vulnerable communities as well as with health service providers within Canada and abroad.  Links will be established with partners both in Canada and abroad to ascertain their need / demand to enable;

  • a) the students to focus on an area of their interest and
  • b) the host entities to utilize technical expertise to help resolve their specific public health issues. Such relations are expected to open up avenues and opportunities for employment for the students. The criteria for enrollment in the MPH program also will be developed planning for student intake from Canada and abroad.

In addition to developing the MPH program, future expansion of graduate level public health education at Western will be carefully considered.  The MPH can be readily linked with clinical degrees such as MD, Dentistry, Nursing and Family Health Residency programs. It can also be expanded to focus on specific areas of need, such as an MPH in Global Health; Health Policy & Planning; or First Nations Health, as examples.

The administrative and budgetary authority of this interfaculty program in Public Health will rest in SSMD. During the period of IDI funding, Dean Michael Strong will consult widely with Deans of Faculties and Schools at Western to encourage and ensure the interfaculty collaboration. He already has sought funding for core faculty for the MPH and found permanent space for this program in a new building to be shared with the Department of Family Medicine. This building is scheduled for occupancy by June / July 2013.

It is anticipated that the IDI support will be deemed to have been critical in helping to establish an MPH Program at Western.