Kansas IN PUBLIC HEALTH

Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Kansas

 

In 2015, America’s Health Rankings published an annual report showing that from 1991 to 2015, Kansas dropped from the 8th healthiest state to the 27th healthiest state in the U.S., which sparked the creation of such groups as the Kansas Health Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses primarily on civic health and health equity.

 

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Similar projects have been developed around the state in order to educate the public on health risk, proper nutrition and general wellness, while nonprofits such as The Kansas Health Institute continue to research environmental health risks and provide practical solutions to hazards such as particulate matter, second-hand smoke, pesticides, and lead poisoning.

 

In addition, Kansas’ aging population provides a unique opportunity for master’s-prepared public health professionals to create and implement health initiatives to evaluate the needs of the elderly population and ensure adequate access to healthcare and other services. As documented in a 2013 REACH Healthcare Foundation report, the elderly population of east Kansas/west Missouri was projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to grow from 225,000 in 2010 to roughly 450,000 by 2040. This huge increase will certainly change the public health focus in the state and give way to many new employment opportunities in the field.

 

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) prepares public health leaders to serve the state’s population by educating the public, leading environmental initiatives, seeking solutions to our current environmental crises, and serving in planning, management, and evaluation capacities. MPH graduates may choose to work in public health education, program administration, policy development, program evaluation, health communication, consumer safety, epidemiologic research and much more. Kansas’s public health professionals have led successful initiatives in the past, paving the way for future excellence.

 

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Kansas

 

MPH programs in the U.S. accredited by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) offer an interdisciplinary education valuable to advancing career professionals and those from other backgrounds such as health administration, public administration, math and statistics, teaching, healthcare disciplines, and much more.

 

In Kansas, there are two physical campus locations that offer CEPH accredited MPH degree programs. However, numerous schools around the country also offer CEPH accredited degrees in a flexible online format, which is often the preferred option for returning graduate students. Most of these programs are completed in 40-60 credit hours and two-three years of study, with different focus areas offered in individual programs. Because of accreditation requirements, the core courses of each program are similar.

 

Academic Requirements

 

Accredited MPH degree programs are required to comply with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Core Competency Model. The Core Competency Model requires that students gain competency in five traditional areas and seven interdisciplinary areas of public health.

 

The required five traditional areas of public health are as follows:

 

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

 

The seven interdisciplinary areas are as follows:

 

  • Communication and Informatics
  • Diversity and Culture
  • Leadership
  • Public Health Biology
  • Professionalism
  • Program Planning
  • Systems Thinking

 

Core coursework for MPH programs will likely include these topics:

 

  • Applied Biostatistics
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social and Behavioral Factors and Health
  • Health Systems, Management and Policy
  • Public health Administration
  • Ethical and Political Issues
  • Cultural Context of Health

 

Focus Areas and Specialization

 

Most MPH programs offer specialty areas that narrow students’ educational focus into a specific field. The following focus areas represent those most relevant to public health policy and administration, public health marketing and program evaluation.

 

Health Communication: Health Communication students may pursue careers building public awareness of health needs and leading health initiatives on the local and federal levels. For instance, in 2009 the Kansas Department of Health and Environment launched Immunize Kansas Kids, a project with the aim of increasing communication with parents in order to raise Kansas’s child vaccination rates.

 

Courses within this specialization may include:

 

  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing and Research for Public Health

 

Health Systems, Management and Policy: Health Systems, Management and Policy students may pursue careers managing administrative health offices, reforming and evaluating existing policies, and creating new systems according to need assessment. For instance, the Kansas Health Institute has issued several reports on the state of health concerns in the state, most recently in 2015 releasing a strategic plan for local health departments and non-profit hospitals in order to improve health care.

 

Courses within this specialization may include:

 

  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low and Middle Income Countries
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
  • Public Health and Law
  • Global Health Diplomacy
  • Law, Medicine and Ethics

 

Program Planning and Evaluation: Program Planning and Evaluation students are often on the initiating end of new local, state, or nationwide health plans. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, for instance, promotes many different community health plans, including cancer information, diabetes prevention, health risk studies, health disease prevention, and worksite wellness.

 

Courses within this specialization may include:

 

  • Researching Violence against Women and Girls
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing Research for Public Health

 

Global Health: Global Health students may pursue careers in international policy, whether reforming or evaluating, and program implementation. The U.S. supports many different global health policies, all categorized under the umbrella of the Global Health Strategy, the most recent (2011-2015) plan, including fighting Ebola, malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis.

 

Courses within this specialization may include:

 

  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Global Health Diplomacy
  • Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
  • Climate Change and Social Change

 

Admission Requirements

 

MPH program admission requirements vary by school, but most MPH programs require the following:

 

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA in undergraduate study
  • Official GRE scores
  • Personal essay
  • Three letters of recommendation

 

Accelerated Programs and Part-time Options

 

Some MPH programs offer a fast track program that will allow students to complete their coursework in just one year. On the opposite side, part-time programs usually allow students to take only one course per term and finish the degree in three-four years. Although not required for part-time program admission, most fast track programs require students to hold a higher minimum GPA, 60-90 completed hours of undergraduate coursework, and quantitative GRE scores at least in the 40th percentile.

 

Job Growth Projections for Public Health Professionals in Kansas with Master’s Degrees

 

Job growth in Kansas has been driven in the public health sector by an aging population. As the state’s residents age, it becomes incumbent for federal and private sectors to ensure proper care.

 

The BLS predicted the following job growth for these public health professions in Kansas between 2012-2022:

 

  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 18.5%
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: 14.5%
  • Community and Social Service Specialists: .1%
  • Health Educators: 7.1%
  • Community Health Workers: 18.4 %

 

Salaries in Kansas for Public Health Professions that Require a Master’s Degree

 

Average annual wages for public health occupations in Kansas range from $25,310-$90,260. The BLS has recorded the following salary data in 2014, organized from entry-level professionals (tenth percentile) to experienced professionals (90th percentile):

 

  • Substance Abuse/Behavioral Disorder Counselors: $25,310-61,420
  • Community Health Workers: $20,790-$60,360
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $21,200-$59,810
  • Community and Social Service Specialists: $23,610-$68,860
  • Health Care Educators: $29,650-$90,260

 

Career Opportunities in Kansas for Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals

 

Public health job opportunities in Kansas can take many different forms, including but not limited to careers in environmental health, health education, health communication, research, and community health services. As of 2015, the following job opportunities were available in Kansas. (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply a job offer or assurance of employment.):

 

Public Health Specialist in the Department of Health and Environment in Shawnee, Kansas

Duties/Description:

 

  • Candidate will plan activities for the department according to the Local Public Health Program
  • Candidate will provide design of projects of the Local Public Health Program, including the development of teams and communities

 

Requirements:

 

  • A Bachelor’s degree in public health or related field required; Master’s degree preferred
  • Four years of experience in public health or workforce development.

 

Infection Control Manager at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Overland Park, Kansas

 

Duties/Description:

 

  • Candidate will develop a hospital-wide Infection Control Program and implement it strategically
  • Candidate will communicate with staff about prevention of infectious diseases
  • Candidate will develop the plan according to state and national guidelines and regulations

 

Requirements:

 

  • Master’s degree in public health, nursing, or related field
  • Certification in Infection Control (CIC)

 

Health Educator, Army Wellness Center, Fort Riley, KS

 

Duties/Description:

 

  • Candidate will work as part of a team to educate the community with health assessment, nutrition, and generalized wellness in accordance with U.S. Army standards

 

Requirements:

 

  • Bachelor’s degree in public health or related field required; Master’s degree preferred