TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences will offer a new degree program designed to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice beginning in the fall.
The Master of Science in population health sciences degree will address the changing landscape of health care by observing health outcomes and patterns of health determinants, as well as the policies and interventions that link them both.
“We are excited to announce the start of our first degree program in population health,” said Dr. John C. Higginbotham, chair of the department of community medicine and population health at the College. “Population health is a relatively new discipline, but the concepts have been around for a long time.”
The leadership at CCHS and University Medical Center, which is operated by the College, recognizes that intellectual investments in the future of health are necessary to provide a high quality of life for communities. With that, the degree curriculum will integrate clinical care and public health practices to prevent, reduce and manage human disease, primarily through the use of patient-centered approaches to understanding the needs of a diverse clientele and by incorporating a value-based healthcare system.
“Physicians, other health care providers and organizations are increasingly being asked to go beyond addressing the medical needs of individual patients by looking at what can be done proactively to benefit the health of a population,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS. “This can be accomplished by using health data, along with a variety of epidemiologic measures; prioritizing the issues; and redesigning or improving processes at the population level through an interdisciplinary community team approach, all intended to advance health.”
By expanding training within population health practices, the College seeks to advance the means by which health care is accessed, provided and utilized. Providers will be able to move away from dependence upon primarily reactive responses to an individual’s health needs and work toward achieving outcomes-based, proactive approaches while directing particular attention toward larger, socially-grouped needs and prevention efforts to reduce disparity and variation in care.
“We feel that our degree program will appeal to practitioners, such as primary health care providers and health care administrators, and individuals interested in the research aspects of the discipline,” said Higginbotham. “Our program will offer two modalities to meet the needs of these groups. One is an online program, and the other is a more traditional on-campus program.”
According to Higginbotham, the 30-credit hour program can be pursued on a full or part-time basis, and applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. For more information regarding the degree program, applications and guidelines, visit cchs.ua.edu.